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Kroger VGC Fraud/Scam Is Worse Than We Thought – Very Elegant Plan
Yesterday I talked about reader Joe’s recent issue with some Visa gift cards that he purchased at Kroger during the 4x promo. Every card he purchased was drained and Kroger was unwilling to do anything about it. And that is after they admitted they knew there was an issue. They were even able to go to the gift card rack and find more fraudulent cards very easily. After talking with Joe some more, now I know why.
An Elegant Scam
I was surprised to hear that Joe’s gift cards were zeroed out as soon as he got home. Come to find out when he called in to the Visa gift card providers they said the cards were never activated. So of course they said go back to Kroger and get a refund since they were not activated. But Joe had receipts showing activation of the cards. Here is why the scam is so elegant.
The scammers are somehow opening the packages and putting in a printed barcode over the gift cards. So when the pull tab is removed they scan this paper bar code. That activates a card THEY have in THEIR possession. It does not correlate to the card that is actually in the package.
They are able to get the packages opened and resealed without raising suspicions. This is why I think it is an inside job.
How Do You Detect This Scam?
The best way to detect this scan is rip off the pull tab before taking them to a register. Run your finger along the bar code. If it is plastic feeling with bumps you should be good. If it feels like paper then take it to the service desk and alert management.
This is becoming a serious issue that neither the stores or gift card issuers seem to be taking seriously. The company that stocks the shelves needs to be tracking this info down because someone is taking them for a ride. The stores should also be training their employees on what to look for. I would not be surprised to see these pulled from the shelves soon in areas where this is prevalent (mainly the west coast right now).
By doing it this way there is no one willing to take blame. Kroger says they never take blame and the gift card company says that the cards he has were never loaded. I told him to call them back and explain the scam and give them the paper bar code info to see if they can resend him those gift cards.
Be careful out there people!
Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.