Gift Card Scammers Hit Belmont

When a checker swipes your gift card, they might be activating someone else's card instead.

By Jean Elle
|  Wednesday, Feb 22, 2012  |  Updated 10:47 PM PDT
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Hot Holiday Gifts 2011

Police discovered 10 altered gift cards in a man's car on Tuesday.

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That gift card you just bought may turn out to be worthless.

Belmont police say scam artists have figured out how to make lots of money with gift cards while you get ripped off.

Here's how the scam works. First crooks take cards from store displays. Then they remove the activation tab from one card and put it on another card. Finally they put the altered package back on the rack for you to buy.

When a checker swipes the card you are paying for, they are actually activating the card the crook kept.

Belmont police arrested a man Tuesday after a detective saw him stealing cards from Safeway. Ten altered gift cards were later discovered in his car.

Police are urging people to take a good look at gift card packaging before buying a card. Wrinkled cardboard and glue are warning signs. Belmont Police Lt. Patrick Halleran said if the activation tab and the card don't match, a scammer may have already tampered with it.

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