Good afternoon everyone, a friend of mine from Irvine (Southern California) sent me the following email about gift card fraud and how the scammers were able to access the gift card information by tampering with the gift card packaging. Here is his story:
A few days ago, I went to Woodbury Ralphs to get a few VGC’s. I should have been tipped off that something was wrong b/c there were barely any left …. there usually are tons.
But anyway, I grabbed a few and checked out. They all still had the pull tab intact. They all loaded with $500 just fine, without a problem.
Upon calling the 1-800 # to activate two of them, however, the prompts said that the cards could not be activated and to speak to a customer service rep. It turned out that both of the cards were frozen b/c someone had tried to access funds on them (back in October 2014). And thus they were frozen.
I looked carefully at the cards and they were pretty scratched up (one of them had a hair glued on!). A closer inspection of the packaging on the bottom showed that there was a very subtle yellow hue at the bottom of the packages where the scammer had sliced them open and glued them back together again. I have attached photos of this (I slightly adjusted the levels of the picture in Photoshop to enhance the yellow at the bottom, so it’s easier to see (it was barely noticeable in real life).
The ones that were scammed were the ones with the purple bubbles with blue bubbles in the upper left corner (this is probably only pertinent to the Woodbury scammer’s card of choice).
An additional detail was that I bought 6 cards – four were the one with the picture of a “gift box” on them — these activated fine.
Moral of the story for me was to look VERY CAREFULLY at the packages of VGC’s, especially the bottom of the packaging. If there is any suspicion, do not buy it.
The additional details I forgot to add are that they asked me to fax in my activation receipts (pulled them out of my shoe box, thank goodness), my name/address/email, the 16-digit card #’s, and the back of the physical cards. They said that they get 100’s of these complaints per day and that I would be contacted in 7-10 business days, at which point they would send out new cards with the full value.
If you ever want to post the photo and the story as a posting, feel free to! I think you may have posted something about this already in the past, though, I can’t remember.
Take care man! Have a good rest of the weekend…..
Thank you for sharing your story. That is scary to hear because I have purchase many gift cards at that particular store and have never had any problems. This is a good reminder to assume that scammers are everywhere and to make sure the gift cards look and “feel right” before you buy them. I would also mention gift cards are like ticking time bombs, the longer you hold onto to them, the more dangerous they get. It is better to liquidate them ASAP, if possible.
If you want to learn more about dealing with gift card issues, I have 2 other posts worth reading. Fun fact: the second article below is about the same Ralphs store that is mentioned above.
- My $503.95 Dilemma with CVS and American Express
- Gift Card Horrors at Ralphs – 2 $500 VGCs, but 3 $505.95 Charges – scroll to the bottom of the post and begin reading at, “Last but not least, I want to share with you some recent “issues” I experience 2 weeks ago when buying gift cards at my local Ralph’s (Kroger) grocery store. This is what happened.”
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Have a great day everyone!