Gift Cards vulnerable to duplication
Who knew that it would be so easy to learn how to create clones of legitimate gift cards? 22 year old Sealtiel Zepeda from Oregon was able to do just that. He was just recently sentenced to serve 18 months probation for charges of computer crime, and drunk driving to both of which he pled guilty. The terms of his probation stipulate that he would face 13 months in prison if he violates the said agreement. He was able to steal $6,000 worth of goods by using cloned gift cards he created.
He got the idea of this gift card cloning scam
While at a Fred Meyer store making a purchase. He noticed how gift-cards were being activated and thought that it would be easy to learn how to activate these gift cards and manipulate this information which was stored in these magnetic strips. He started researching on the subject and in less than 24 hours, he was able to purchase a magnetic card reader, get the proper software to monitor a gift card’s balance, and plan his scam.
He stole unused gift cards which were on display, scanned their information on his magnetic reader, and then return the unused cards to avoid getting caught. He used the stolen information with the monitoring software to alert him whether the cards were already activated at the store. Once verified active, he would put the information on a blank gift card, thus producing a cloned gift card.
With the aid of the retail store “Fred Meyer”, police were able to get Zepeda on security cameras and catch him in the act of using a cloned gift card. He was also betrayed by his IP address which the police traced. In his residence police confiscated numerous unused gift cards from the following retail stores: “Abercrombie and Fitch”, “Apple”, “American Eagle”, “Best Buy”, “Macy's”, and “Spencer Gifts”.
There have been many criminals prosecuted last year for gift-card cloning yet more criminals prefer credit card fraud which although riskier, offered higher returns. A spokes person from Fred Meyer informed police that they have already taken preventive measures against this kind of scam.
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