A New Scam Manipulates Gift Card Barcodes

Police are warning shoppers that a new scan is popping up, as a recent incident in Cincinnati, Ohio proves that gift cards can be manipulated so thieves can make off with purchasers’ money.

Police say that a scam has been uncovered where someone placed false barcodes on gift cards. The barcodes are stuck onto the back of the card, so that when one is activated, the money is deposited into a scammer’s account instead of the buyer’s.

Authorities warn that the false barcode wasn’t noticable, and buyers should check their purchases carefully to see if the card was tampered with.

Fox 19 reports:

The scam was reported at a grocery store. When the gift card was activated at the register, the money went directly to the thief.

Blue Ash Police said this is the first time this type of scam has been reported in the area.

“They’re placing a fake barcode over the back of the barcode, so when they go to load the information or how much money you want on that card the money is going onto that fake barcode,” said Sgt. Jun Cho with the Blue Ash Police Department.

Cho said the recent victim bought a gift card from Kroger and when it was used at a McDonald’s the cashier said the gift card was never activated. Police shared a picture of the gift card that the thief tampered with warn residents what to look out for.

“It could be difficult to see unless you’re looking for it,” said Cho.

Several shoppers who saw the picture also didn’t notice the changes on the gift card.

“It’s terrible anybody would look at that barcode and would have no idea that it was not an actual card,” said Brandon Toms

Police said whoever is behind the scam could be grabbing gift cards off the shelves, changing the barcode numbers with stickers and putting it right back on the shelf in minutes without anyone noticing.

Sgt. Cho suggests shoppers check the barcode to make sure it hasn’t been stuck on the card. Before you buy, give the barcode a scratch to make sure it’s the real thing.

WCPO-9 posted a warning on their Facebook page:

Blue Ash Police Department warns of a gift card scam. Read the full message below:

“Can you spot what’s wrong with this gift card? This gift card was purchased at a local Kroger, and when it was attempted to be used at McDonalds, the gift card was refused. Crafty criminals taped a different bar code to back of the gift card and that bar code scanned at Kroger. The criminals then received credit for our victims purchase. Inspect your gift cards closely prior to purchasing.”

Kroger says the incident in the Cincinnati suburb was the first to be reported in the area. According to Fox 19, Kroger is currently investigating nationwide.

Remember that scammers are always looking for new ways to sink their hands in your wallet. Be on the lookout, and don’t let them fool you.