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Amid holiday shopping, thieves utilize new scam eliminating gift card balances

Amid holiday shopping, thieves utilize scam eliminating gift card balances
Amid holiday shopping, thieves utilize scam eliminating gift card balances 02:01

MINNEAPOLIS — Police departments across the country and the Better Business Bureau are warning of a new scam involving thousands of gift cards.

WCCO's sister station in Sacramento first reported on a case involving one man who caught more than 5,000 affected gift cards.

"Scammers are already getting to the gift cards before you even purchase it and leave the store. They're placing their own barcodes on top of the barcodes of that gift card," said Bao Vang with the Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota. "They're just waiting for someone to load money onto it and activate the card and the moment it does, then the scammer is alerted and then they're going to drain that account of the $5, $500, $1,000. And then the recipient of the card will no longer have anything."

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In a statement, Target said:

"We are aware of the prevalence of gift card scams and take them very seriously. We have signs in our stores and share general safety tips with our team members so they can stay alert and help guests as best as they can at our registers. Our centralized cyber fraud team helps educate our team members about common scams and encourages them to look for guests purchasing high dollar amounts or large quantities of gift cards, or tampering with gift cards in stores. We appreciate law enforcement's action on this case and will assist them with their investigation."

Vang suggests shoppers take a closer look at any gift cards they handle this holiday season.

"You want to do a visual check of that card. What does it look like? What does it feel like? Is there an extra sticker or another layer on top of the barcode?" Vang said. "Check to see if there's any rips or tears or any tampering of that scratch-off code that might be existing in the back of the card. That might mean wherever ... that card is displayed in the store, the scammer has already gotten to it."

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