Best Buy Employee Tries to Steal Your Gift Cards

Reader Alex sends us a tip about the a scam that he learned about while working at Best Buy. Here’s the scam:

1)You walk in with a gift card, full of smiles and joy.
2) The Best Buy person scans your card, tell you there is nothing on it, and asks if you’d like to throw it away. You say, “Sure! Too bad! Mom said that had $100 on there, but she’s off her meds!”
3) Best Buy guy steals your gift card and uses it to buy World of Warcraft Expansion Packs.

Sure, we think no one would be stupid enough to fall for this, but a Best Buy guy recently tried it on Alex, who recognized and stopped it, and he wanted to warn all of you.
From Alex’s email:

charles ran the cards each time on his computer and every time it would ask him for the pin number he would just hit continue with out entering anything and say to me that the card was damaged and could not be used and if i wanted to throw it away. I told charles that i used to work for best buy and that i knew what he was doing and that all that he had to do was just scan the card and then type the svc number in and it would work fine.

This scam obviously applies to all retailers, not just Best Buy. — MEGHANN MARCO


Edit Your Comment

  1. acambras says:

    Aw man, that is NEFARIOUS.

  2. eeebee says:

    This is a scam that happened to my best friend’s dad at a gas station. I don’t have specifics because it was a couple years ago. The dad wanted a $100 gift card for gas for his newly licensed granddaughter. The clerk put $100 on his credit card, gave him a card worth $10 and made herself a card worth $90. She was in bulletproof glass cage so he couldn’t really see what she was doing. The lesson is if you buy a gift card, make sure the clerk only makes one.

  3. lowercase16 says:

    I used to work at a Blockbuster. You’d be surprised how many people we got coming in who actually didn’t have anything on their gift cards.

    I suppose the best way to protect yourself from this is to just keep the card yourself, no matter what.

    Also, at Blockbuster at least, a receipt would print displaying the balance of the card. I’m sure you’d be entitled to something similar at Best Buy.

  4. juri squared says:

    That’s pretty nasty. I hope he turned the cashier in.

  5. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    That’s just incredibly sleazy. I hope the guy gets fired.

    Charles, my friend, you don’t even deserve to work at Best Buy.

  6. toomanyplugs says:

    I heard of a more clever method (I thought it was on here, but I guess not) wherein some guy walks in and writes down all the card numbers for the unactivated gift cards on the rack, then waits until the cards are activated (say, after Christmas) and uses the now-activated card numbers in the retailer’s online store. Nefarious!

  7. Jesse in Japan says:

    Why the hell didn’t you tell the store manager about this? Or better yet, the police? Well, I guess Charles can always just claim incompetence (which is half true).

  8. verd says:

    This isn’t the only way Bestbuy employees can scam you. Some products come with gift cards of varying amounts for certain promotions, often these are not well marked or advertised so customers don’t always know. The employees will ring you out and then secretively scan a new gift card. Instead of giving the customer the card they will keep it for themselves. It seems one employee in every store each year will do this and then inevitably use the cards with their discount and get caught, fired, and arrested for theft.

  9. Amry says:

    This doesn’t happen just at Best Buy – I’ve seen it happen elsewhere, as well, both on purpose and by mistake out of sheer carelessness. Just be wary, check your receipts to ensure giftcard numbers match up, and always know how much is on your giftcard before you enter the store. Most retailers offer the option of going online or calling an 800 number to verify the balance.

    As for the “going into the store, writing down giftcard numbers, then checking online to see when they’re activated” scam – the best way to avoid this is to only purchase giftcards from retailers who use the scratch-off security code on the back of their gift cards – and check the card you’re purchasing to make sure the scratch-off box is intact. For these retailers, a giftcard number is useless for a purchase online unless you know the security code.

  10. Xkeeper says:

    And Alex didn’t turn him in?


  11. Mr. Gunn says:

    As far as the writing down numbers scam, you’re witnessing the birth of an urban legend. Snopes even reports on it, saying it could happen but not able to cite any case where it has actually happened. I’ll bet you start getting chain emails warning about this scam in a month or so. You heard it here first.

  12. Scazza says:

    Hey guys, I used to work at Toys R Us, and here were a few employees who would do that. However, I have one better. There was a girl who worked in our section at the till. Around xmas time, the amount of fake credit cards we got was nearly 1-2 a day. She would look at the card, tell it was fake (honestly, its not hard to make a good fake) and say “okay, this is clearly fake, either f*** off, or I call the cops”. Then as they left the store, instead of reporting the fake card to the manager (and in turn the police) she would keep the card, and run off to the nearest gas station to chalk up like 2-300 bucks worth of gas for her and some employee friends.

  13. jacques says:

    By the way, be careful of those 800 numbers on gift cards. Certain companies will charge you a fee just to call them up and see how much is on there.

  14. Ran Kailie says:

    I will say, there may not be any actual cases of people stealing the numbers successfully. But we had an idiot try the other day, guess stories on the internets are inspiring morons.

    Unfortunately he didn’t realize the cards have a scratch off security code. But he was caught sitting down writing numbers off a card with a list of about 10 from other cards.

    Personally I don’t know why more stores don’t just keep these at the cashier.

  15. methane says:

    Writing numbers off the card? That’s crazy? Camera phones were built for that kind of theft.

  16. Moonliteinvermont says:

    My scam came in ordering a product online with Best Buy that came with a gift card and free shipping. Their checkout practice is deceptive. While the free shipping was automatically figured in, I unknowingly was supposed to link outside check-out and click on a link to add the card to my cart. Nothing in check-out would have alerted me to this. After my confirmation didn’t show the gift card I emailed (and called) customer service and was told geez we’re sorry but you don’t qualify for the card because you didn’t add it to your order. If the free shipping didn’t specifically have to be “ordered” why should the gift card? Just means that Best Buy made $$ off me – stupid customer that I am.
    Best Buy has lost my business for good.
    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I will take all opportunities to share my displeasure with this company. Thank you for this opportunity.

  17. chelsea306 says:

    @toomanyplugs: Most, if not all gift cards come with an ID number and a scratch-off pin number. If your pin number has been scratched off that means someone has been tampering with it. This way people can ensure that no one else has their complete ID number and they are the only ones that can use their gift card. People need to be wary about their giftcards!