Monday 11 December 2023

Shoppers Warned of Gift Card Scam Linked to Chinese National


Buyers of gift cards from retail locations are being warned to pay attention to their purchases.

Sacramento County Sheriff’s “Operation Bad Elf” has led to over 250 arrests for felonies and misdemeanors involved with big retail locations.

One of those arrested was a Chinese National Ningning Sun who had in his possession thousands of Target and Apple gift cards. Some of those he had stolen from a Sacramento Target store.

The investigators involved in Operation Bad Elf saw Sun take the gift cards off the shelf and put them in his coat. Then he put a replacement set of cards back on the racks.


Fox Business reported:

The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Office is warning the public of a disturbing and “very sophisticated” gift card scam that has national and international implications.

The sheriff’s office told Fox News Digital this week it carried out a massive anti-retail theft operation at big box stores across the county, netting 285 felony and misdemeanor arrests in seven days. Among those arrested was a Chinese national who was found to be in possession of thousands of Target and Apple gift cards.

“During our recent retail theft Operation Bad Elf, detectives observed an individual, later identified as Ningning Sun, acting suspiciously near the gift cards in the payment aisles in a Sacramento Target store,” the sheriff’s office said in a press release Wednesday.

The office said investigators witnessed Sun take all the gift cards off a rack in a Target store and put them inside his jacket. Authorities said the suspect then replaced the missing cards with “another set of seemingly identical ones.”

The Sheriff investigators followed the suspect outside the store and arrested him. They found gift cards in his coat and upon searching his car, found thousands of gift cards which consisted of Apple and Target cards.

The sophistication of the crime included pulling information off the cards. The glue that covered the bar codes was carefully removed. The PINs would allegedly be lifted off the cards, the bar codes would be repaired to look normal and the cards were then returned to the store shelves.

This would allow the scammers to steal the money off the gift cards as they were adding or loading money onto them. The money is usually wired to an offshore account and at the same time the victims don’t realize it is happening.

Sun was most likely part of a larger crime syndicate involving the theft of gift cards. The card tampering was done in such a way that it is difficult to detect it when purchasing the cards. The Sheriff Department said to look for signs like scuff marks near the bar code.

The following video was released by the Sacramento Sheriff Department for “Operation Bad Elf.”


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