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name that crime

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September 07, 2007, 13:00
Rachel Patton
name that crime
people steal gift card from wal-mart (the ones they sell that are for other establishments, like best buy, restaurants, etc)

somehow they pass it for goods/services

detective wants to know if he can charge it under the same statute as debit card abuse?
and if not, is it just theft of the good/service?

September 07, 2007, 15:08
I would think it would depend on how the cards operate. I would assume that they are designed to be purchased for either some face value or to be assigned a value based on the amount paid at the time the card is purchased. If these funds are meant to be deposited to a financial institution, which then debits the amount from some account when the card is presented later, then it is a debit card.

This may not be the case, since I don't know the specific arrangement under which these gift cards operate. You'd need to find that out, first.
September 07, 2007, 15:29
I thought those cards had to be activated by a cashier at the time of purchase?
September 07, 2007, 15:42
In that case, you may have a double theft. Once from Walmart, for the value of the card, and then once when the card is presented, assuming the defendant has done something to the card or tricked the cashier at Best Buy (or wherever)into thinking it was valid when it wasn't.
September 07, 2007, 16:20
There is a card scam like this:
For Sale: Some Depot Gift Card with $500 store credit yours for only $350 cash. I will meet you at courtesy counter to verify $$$ amount. I need rent money today. My loss is your gain. It won't last long at this price!!!11

How it works:
The scammers buy 2 gift cards and then spend all the credit on one of them. They keep the "empty" plastic card. Then they use a magnetic card read/writer device to duplicate the full card onto the empty card. This does not create $1000 worth of credit, but it is like having 2 cards on the same account.

One scammer meets the victim at the store where an employee, unaware of the scam, verifies the store credit amount. The scammer's partner is waiting at a different Some Depot store ready to buy $500 worth of merchandise using the duplicate card. Cash changes hands and while the victim goes shopping for new power tools or whatever, the scammer notifies his partner via cell phone. The partner completes his transaction at the remote store and the victim's card is now empty.

The stores are getting wise to this and changing the software so that when a card is used in one store there is a time delay before it can be used in another location.
September 19, 2007, 01:25
One of the prosecutors in our office did something creative recently that fit into this type of mold. I'm not sure of the provision she used, but what it boiled down to was use of fraud to obtain credit. Scenario was DF buys stolen property knowing it's stolen & then pawns the property at the pawn store. Not quite theft, but still fishy.

You may have a better angle with straight theft, but alternatively, the 2nd theft was based on fraudulent obtainment of a negotiable instrument (I think gift cards are negotiable).

I'll ask about it. In the mean time, look at TPC 32.32, 32.46