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Gift Card Draining Scams Spoiled the Party During Holidays; Here's how They Were Orchestrated

Recent reports reveal a disturbing trend of a "card draining" scam that has infiltrated local stores, leaving unsuspecting shoppers at risk of financial loss
Image Source: Photo by Kindel Media | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Kindel Media | Pexels

The holiday season attracted shoppers looking to share the joy of festivities by giving gifts to friends and loved ones. But reports exposed a "card draining" scam that plagued stores, and left unsuspecting shoppers vulnerable to financial loss. Two individuals, identified as Min He and Jian He, have been apprehended in connection to this gift card scam that has impacted nearly 100 gift cards in Bucks County. Here are further details of this draining scam that also shed light on how consumers can protect themselves during the festive season.

The modus operandi of the gift card draining scam involves the removal of gift cards from store shelves, before meticulously recording all the essential information, and then strategically placing the compromised cards back on the rack for unsuspecting shoppers to purchase. The customers then load the cards with their hard-earned money, unaware that the criminals have already extracted the necessary details to deplete the funds without their knowledge.

Pexels | Photo by Gustavo Fring
Pexels | Photo by Gustavo Fring

Local businesses have been hit hard by this draining scam, with nearly 100 gift cards compromised at two GIANT grocery stores in Bucks County. Store managers and employees were put on high alert, constantly monitoring shelves for any signs of tampering or suspicious activity. The timely intervention of an assistant store manager led to the removal of 75 compromised gift cards, preventing a potential loss of at least $3,180.

Min He and Jian He were suspects who were apprehended, and are now facing extradition on outstanding arrest warrants related to the gift card scams. Law enforcement agencies are working on dismantling the network involved in this fraudulent activity and to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Image Source: Photo by RDNE Stock project | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by RDNE Stock project | Pexels

Protecting yourself from such scams

As consumers gear up for holiday shopping, it's crucial to adopt vigilant practices to protect themselves from falling victim to gift card scams. Before purchasing a gift card, examine it closely for any signs of tampering, scratches, or unusual wear. If the card appears altered in any way, refrain from buying it and report it to store staff.

Stick to reputable retailers when buying gift cards. Avoid acquiring them from unofficial or secondary sources, as these may pose a higher risk of being compromised.

Keep track of the balance on your gift cards by checking online or calling the provided customer service number. Report any discrepancies or unauthorized transactions immediately. Exercise caution when selecting gift cards displayed outside the store or in open areas. Criminals often target these locations to tamper with cards without being noticed.

As law enforcement agencies crack down on these scams, consumers must remain vigilant and adopt proactive measures to safeguard their finances during the holiday season. By staying informed and following best practices, individuals can ensure that the joy of giving remains untarnished by the Grinches seeking to exploit the festivities for their illicit gains.