Police warn of new gift card scam

New gift card scam
Published: Oct. 18, 2017 at 1:27 AM EDT|Updated: Oct. 18, 2017 at 7:37 AM EDT
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BLUE ASH, OH (FOX19) - Police are sending out a warning about a new gift card scam popping up around a Cincinnati suburb.

The scam was reported at a grocery store. When the gift card was activated at the register, the money went directly to the thief.

Blue Ash Police said this is the first time this type of scam has been reported in the area.

"They're placing a fake barcode over the back of the barcode, so when they go to load the information or how much money you want on that card the money is going onto that fake barcode," said Sgt. Jun Cho with the Blue Ash Police Department.

Cho said the recent victim bought a gift card from Kroger and when it was used at a McDonald's the cashier said the gift card was never activated. Police shared a picture of the gift card that the thief tampered with warn residents what to look out for.

"It could be difficult to see unless you're looking for it," said Cho.

The Facebook post from the Blue Ash Police Department reads, "Can you spot what's wrong with this gift card? This gift card was purchased at a local Kroger, and when it was attempted to be used at McDonald's, the gift card was refused. Crafty criminals taped a different bar code to back of the gift card and that bar code scanned at Kroger. The criminals then received credit for our victims purchase. Inspect your gift cards closely prior to purchasing."

Several shoppers who saw the picture also didn't notice the changes on the gift card.

"It's terrible anybody would look at that barcode and would have no idea that it was not an actual card," said Brandon Toms

Police said whoever is behind the scam could be grabbing gift cards off the shelves, changing the barcode numbers with stickers and putting it right back on the shelf in minutes without anyone noticing.

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It's a thought that doesn't sit well with some customers.

"My fiancé and I, we buy Amazon cards for each other and for our family. It's kind of our go to and I'd hate to see that happen to us or any of our family," said Toms

Police said before buying your next gift card take a few extra steps to protect your wallet.

"Before you load your money onto the gift card make sure you're examining the barcode that it doesn't come off. Maybe scratch it make sure it hasn't been manipulated," said Sgt. Cho.

Toms said he might skip buying gift cards from the grocery store for good.

"I'll probably be buying online credit if possible," he said.

Police said these type of crimes are difficult to investigate, but making everyone aware of the scam helps with prevention.

The spokesperson for Kroger said they are also looking into the incident.

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