Before you buy gift cards for the holidays, 7 ON YOUR SIDE investigates Gift Card cloning
Britt Canny had no idea when she and her family plopped down $4,400 for a dishwasher, a wall oven and a range to top off their brand new kitchen renovation that she'd be caught in the middle of a battle with Best Buy, the company where they purchased those appliances from.
There's nothing wrong with what they bought.
“The products are great,” Canny says. “We ordred them from Best Buy because they had an offer. If you bought three or more appliances you would get a $400 Best Buy gift card.”
Within days of the purchase she received the gift card in the mail. She would use that money to buy other items for the kitchen. But, there was a problem when she went to Best Buy to redeem the card.
“They told me there was only $10 left on the card,” Canny told 7 ON YOUR SIDE.
When she called Best Buy to find out what happened, she says she gave the company the account number on the card.
A Best Buy representative she says told her the card was used at one of its stores in Columbus, Georgia, over 750 miles away from the Canny's Arlington home. At the same time, the original card she eventually received was in transit from the postal service to her house.
Canny says she was told the card was used again at the same Georgia store a few days later to buy DVDs. she adds when she reported this to best buy,
“They told me, 'Your card was filled with $400 and sorry we treat this as cash, there's nothing we can do for you,'"Canny said after she reported the second incident to Best Buy.
Joseph Oh is a detective with the Metropolitan Police Department's Fraud Unit. He told 7 On Your Side that this looks like a classic case of gift card cloning.
“You swipe it through this cloning device -- an inexpensive scimmer that anyone can buy. Swipe and copy the information on the magnetic stripe from the original card, then take a blank card [and] you swipe it back and it transfers onto your new gift card and all the information goes onto this stripe and you can use it," Oh said.
But, 7 On Your Side contacted Best Buy and a spokesperson told us that this is in no way a case of gift card cloning and that Canny's card was mistakenly "issued to another customer on the same day and that customer received the card intended for Canny and used it."
Canny says she is skeptical.
After receiving a call from 7 On Your Side, Best Buy apologized to Canny for "miscommunication" and gave her $400.
Gift card cloners have victimized Best Buy and many other companies in the past. About $120 billion a year are loaded on gift cards and nearly $1.5 billion of that money is stolen by card cloners.