This is the kind of crime that makes merchants put restrictions on gift card purchases. But it is also a interesting story so I decided to post it. It’s about three meth addicts who came up with a scheme using phony Giant Eagle gift cards to fuel his meth addiction, police said.
This was the scheme. They developed an algorithm that created random number combinations consistent with Giant Eagle gift card serial numbers. This is not as difficult as it sounds actually. They would then call Giant Eagle customer service to see whether the numbers corresponded with cards that had a balance.
If there was a balance, they would use a bar code program he found on the Internet to print the legitimate code on the back of a non-loaded gift card. Then they would go to various Giant Eagles and use them to buy prepaid Vanilla Visa and MasterCard debit cards at self-serve checkouts. They would use the prepaid debit cards at Walmart to buy money orders, which they then used to rent vehicles, pay for hotel rooms and buy crystal methamphetamine. That’s another reason to be nice to fellow shoppers on the customer service line at Walmart, they might be meth addicts.
People who had the gift cards that had their serial numbers stolen found that their cards were empty when they tried to use them, police said. A reminder that you should use up gift cards and prepaid cards quickly.
They did this twice this year. On their second campaign, just between Sept. 8 and Oct. 19, they netted $21,514.62, according to Pittsburgh police. One of the crooks claimed that the total haul was about $300K the Post Gazette reports, but they were charged for the theft of just $30K.