OPP warn public of gift card scam

EMBRUN – The Russell County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) would like to warn residents of a gift card scam that has recently surfaced in the area. Police say that a scam has been uncovered where someone placed false barcodes on gift cards. The barcodes are stuck onto the back of gift cards so that when one is activated, the money is deposited into a scammer’s account instead of the buyer’s gift card.

The scammers are taking advantage of the fact that many gift cards that are displayed on sales racks are just blank cards. A dollar value is added by the merchant to the card upon activation at the time of purchase. The scammers have been applying an altered barcode sticker over the genuine barcode. When an unsuspecting customer buys the altered card, the funds are diverted to a card or an account held by the scammers. “Before you buy a gift card, give the barcode a scratch to make sure it’s the real thing. If your gift card balance is not what you expect it to be, contact the card issuer immediately. Quick action will greatly improve your chances of retrieving your money. Also, since scammers generally perpetrate the same fraud on multiple victims, by reporting incidents to both the police and the merchant, you will be helping others who may fall prey to the scam”.

Provincial Constable Jason Chenier suggested the following: “Before you buy a gift card, give the barcode a scratch to make sure it’s the real thing. If your gift card balance is not what you expect it to be, contact the card issuer immediately. Quick action will greatly improve your chances of retrieving your money. Also, since scammers generally perpetrate the same fraud on multiple victims, by reporting incidents to both the police and the merchant, you will be helping others who may fall prey to the scam”.

The false barcode isn’t easily noticeable, and buyers should check their purchases carefully to see if the card was tampered with. In an effort to reduce victimization, consumers need to be aware of these scams and retailers should be on the lookout for suspicious activity in their stores in relation to gift card sales.

If you think you’ve been the victim of a gift card scam, report it to your local police service.