Best Buy Sends Customer To Jail For Paying With AMEX Gift Card

Update: The news channel New York 1 has prepared a video segment about Ilona’s experience with Best Buy and the NYC police.

A shopper just told us that last night last month at a Best Buy in NYC, she was taken to a back room, then cuffed by police officers and taken to a precinct for “further investigation,” because she tried to pay with an American Express gift card her father had bought for her.

Last night, I tried to purchase a Blu Ray DVD player from the Best Buy on Broadway just north of Houston. I paid for a portion of the player with my debit card, and for the other portion, I tried paying with three different American Express gift cards I was given as presents, all of which were purchased in California, one by a friend, one by my brother, and one by my father.

When I tried to use these cards, after the charge WENT THROUGH on two of the three cards, the third was inspected more closely because it didn’t have any raised numbers. The desk clerk, who was extremely rude and started giving me attitude after becoming wary of the card’s appearance, then checked back on the other two cards and saw that they were in fact routing back to a card number which didn’t match the Amex gift cards (the gift cards were routing to another person’s card).

So, Best Buy then called American Express using the number on the back of the card and spoke with one representative in India, who said the account number didn’t match. I of course was concerned and tried to explain these were gifts – I had nothing to hide. I was suddenly surrounded by two officers who first took me to Best Buy’s security room, and not questioned. I put one of them on the phone with my dad who explained he purchased thousands of dollars worth of cards for his customers THROUGH AMEX, this being one of them, and even gave them the credit card number on which it was purchased. I was then told I would have to go to the precinct for further investigation, was handcuffed (after pleas to not to do) put into a cop car and taken to the station on 5th street (9th precinct). They took everything away, frisked me UNDER MY SHIRT, albeit by a female officer, but still — and then placed me in a holding cell for about an hour.

The matter was then looked into by the police who, after making the call to American Express, did indeed find out that all three cards checked out and were legit and purchased in California.

On top of that, upon my exiting the police station finally after being released, ANOTHER young guy around my age was brought in from the very SAME Best Buy for THE EXACT SAME REASON – trying to make a purchase with a gift card, the only difference being that his gift cards were Master Cards.

This is insane and I am in shock, disgusted and traumatized. I don’t know whose fault it was but it was definitely not mine and something needs to be done.