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Gardai issue warning over fraudulent gift card scam

  • Wed 31 July, 2019

An Garda Síochána has issued a warning to retailers about a crime trend that has the potential to cause significant financial loss to retail businesses across the country.

Businesses are being advised to be extra vigilant with issuing gift cards. According the Gardai, criminals are stealing blank gift cards from retail businesses such as Dunnes Stores, Tesco and Supervalu.  These gift cards are then being cloned in pairs so that two cards have identical details on them.

What occurs is that the criminals enter a retail business in pairs, with one of the criminals approaching a cashier and requesting that funds are put on the gift card.  In most shops the funds are placed on the gift card prior to payment being received, which also puts the funds on the matching cloned card.  The criminal then offers to pay with a debit or credit card which is declined.

The criminal then offers to go to an ATM to get cash to pay for the funds on the gift card and leaves the shop.  While this is happening the second criminal makes simultaneous purchases using the funds on the paired, cloned gift card.

By the time the cashier gets a manager to cancel the transaction on the original gift card the funds have already been spent by the second criminal using the paired card.  Most of the transactions that gardai have been made aware of involve the purchase of large amounts of alcohol.

In a second scenario the criminals go to separate shops and keep in touch by way of text or WhatsApp and carry out simultaneous transactions using the paired, cloned gift cards.

Gardai are offering the following advice to businesses:

  • Blank gift cards should not be accessible to the public and should be kept in a location to which only staff have access.
  • When customers seek to purchase gift cards the cashier should provide them with a new gift card rather than putting funds on a card handed in by the customer.
  • The funds should not be put on the gift card until payment has been made in full.

If your business experiences such a situation than it is advised to contact An Garda Síochána. For Southside businesses call Pearse Street Garda Station on 666 9000 or Northside businesses Store Street Garda Station on 666 8000