The HRP/RCMP Integrated Financial Crime Unit is advising local businesses and citizens of an increase in gift card scams.
Over the last couple of months, investigators have noticed an increase in scams involving gift cards. Fraudsters are going to local businesses and purchasing numerous gift cards that need to be activated by store clerks. Once the cards are activated, the customer presents a fake or stolen credit card, usually without a chip, to pay for the gift cards. The customer is then prompted to swipe the card using the magnetic strip or enter the card numbers manually which may prompt the clerk to manually override the transaction. The store becomes aware of the fraudulent nature of the transaction several days later when informed by the credit card company. Because these transactions involve the store entering a manual override in the point of sale (POS) machine, the credit card companies may not cover the losses.
Investigators would like to remind businesses owners and clerks to be diligent about gift cards purchases. Specifically:
- Be wary of a customer who is overly helpful or knowledgeable about manual override procedures involving POS transaction, especially when it involves a significant purchase.
- Be diligent in confirming that a credit card is valid and train your staff appropriately.
- When in doubt, contact the credit card issuers to confirm the validity of the card.
- Ask for ID when in doubt and be mindful that fraudsters often carry counterfeit ID which may not reflect their real names.
- If you do not feel confident about the validity of a credit card, refuse to process the transaction.
- Be aware that you may be liable for losses incurred when a manual override is used.
The HRP/RCMP Financial Crime Unit reminds business owners of the importance of being diligent when processing transactions involving credit cards without chip technology. Contact police immediately if you become aware of a fraudulent credit card use.