Gift card fraud fallout: Some shoppers spend more than they should

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GARFIELD HEIGHTS, Ohio–  Police in several Cleveland suburbs are investigating the possibility that a computer glitch is to blame for malfunctioning gift cards, that are allowing shoppers to spend far more than the cards’ face value.

Employees at the K-Mart on Rockside Road in Garfield Heights are still scratching their heads after shoppers with $10 and  $20 American Express gift cards, went on shopping sprees usually reserved for the holidays.

Garfield Heights police would later discover the gift cards had a serious glitch. Detective Pete Stroe told FOX 8, “They’re buying these $20 pre-loaded gift cards, and it’s not stopping at $20; it continues onto 500. One of our officers told us that K-Mart shelves were bare. People were going in there multiple times with different cards and purchasing up to $500.”

Some of the shoppers who took advantage of the malfunctioning cards, bragged about it on social media. One tweeted, “Go to Walgreen’s, get an American Express serve card, put ten dollars on it; go to K-Mart and only K-Mart, the card will say your balance is 500, no joke.”

According to Detective Stroe, “Some of the people know because of social media, that they knew that these $20 gift cards would not stop at $20, so obviously some of them, most of them, knew that it was wrong and they were stealing.”

The malfunctioning gift card that keeps on giving up to $500 is raising  a moral dilemma for some shoppers. We asked shoppers if they would take advantage of the glitch. Gloria Adair told us, “That’s a hard question. I don’t know. I guess if I were to just go ahead and use it, and they gave me whatever I was purchasing, I guess I would.” Dan Freeman responded, “Nothing is free. Something is wrong; that sounds like fraud.”

Garfield Heights police said it was at a Get-Go station on Transportation Boulevard that two men found a way to use the malfunctioning gift cards to fill their pockets, by offering to fill customers’ gas tanks with the cards in exchange for cash.

Detective Stroe said, “So if it was a $40 fill-up, $50, $70 dollar fill-up, they got $20 and they were happy with that. Well, they did it to the tune of $3,300.”

We attempted to contact American Express about the gift cards, but so far, the company has not responded. Police said now that the problem with the malfunctioning cards is becoming common knowledge, anyone caught using them could face criminal charges.

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