Good afternoon everyone. A few months ago on Mother’s Day, I went to Ralph’s in Huntington Beach to buy a Visa Gift Card (for myself, sorry mom). After purchasing a tampered Visa Gift Card, I wrote PSA: Don’t Buy US Bank Visa Gift Cards from Ralphs / Kroger (GC Numbers Compromised). In that post, I swore never to buy another Visa or MasterCard Gift Card from a grocery store. The amount of cash back or miles/points gained is not enough to offset the headache required to get 1 tampered Visa or MasterCard Gift Card issue resolved. I have stuck to my word and not broken the promise I made to myself.
A friend of mine from SoCal shared his experience dealing with Visa Gift Card scammers…
Just wanted to share some more info about ANOTHER gift card scam that happened to me (in Ralph’s again! Goodness gracious.)
If you remember from a couple months ago, I emailed you about the tampered US Bank Visa Gift Card packaging, where it was pretty apparent, upon very close observation, that the gift card packaging had been tampered with.
8/18: I bought TWO $500 US Bank Visa Gift Cards. I inspected the packaging very carefully and they were PERFECT. No sign of being touched or tampered with. After purchase and activation, there was a strange problem – I couldn’t change the pin number. I went back to Ralph’s that same day to have them call US Bank to confirm the purchase and make sure there wasn’t activation issues from Ralph’s end. The Visa Gift Cards were then activated. I then changed the pin number successfully.
8/19: When I went to Walmart to load my Bluebird card, the error message “tender not accepted” appeared several times. Right there and then, I called Visa to see what was going on; they said the “pin was locked out” or something and they had to reset it but the funds were fine. I then tried to load them to my Bluebird card again, but I still couldn’t reload my Bluebird card. I was frustrated because now I didn’t know what to do with the cards. When I called the 1-800 number on the back of the Visa Gift Card, I still had a $500 balance on each Visa Gift Card.
8/25: I finally had a chance to return to Walmart, but my Bluebird card reload was STILL being denied. I then called to check the gift cards – the balances were now DRAINED. I called US Bank and they told me that one one of the $500 cards had been charged to ZARA USA (a clothing company), multiple charges were made to Amazon.com, and a lot of businesses in the Garden Grove area (e.g. 7-11, Walmart, Toyota, etc.). I checked the gift card balance and recent activity on mygiftcardsite.com and saw that the Visa Gift Card had been registered to someone in Garden Grove’s (probably a fake alias) and all of the corresponding charges were listed. Within 2 days, the scammer had drained the funds completely. I had to fax a dozen pages of receipts, copies of the cards, disputes of charges, etc. and will need to wait a few weeks minimum before I get new cards issued back to me.
I had kept the packaging for the cards, and only after all this had happened, I had a chance to go back and look very carefully at the packaging. Again, even though the exterior packaging was literally PERFECT, when I slipped open the side seams, I noticed that there was some funky glue residue on the left seam that seemed unnaturally placed there. Now, of course, this is different than last time, where there was some faint color difference on the outside of the packaging. You can’t tell from the image because I’ve torn the packaging apart, but it was literally PERFECT when I purchased it (I always take a very careful feel and look at it). This is a cautionary tale to people out there – scammers are getting better at sealing up packages so there is LITERALLY no way to tell that they’ve been used, unless you rip the side of the packaging open.
On a side note, I went to the police dept and they said I could file a police report, but that this stuff happens so frequently, that it was honestly probably not gonna go anywhere.
I am really sorry that this happened to my friend and dealing with the gift card issuer can be equally exhausting. As long as you continue to purchase Visa or MasterCard Gift Cards in grocery stores (or other merchants), you run the risk of having a similar issue. I’ve started purchasing a lot of Visa Gift Cards online (Staples.com and other merchants) and I have not had any problems.
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Have a great day everyone.