Friday, December 16, 2005

In one million years, I would not have thought of either of these...

There is an old story about two young guys in the early 1960's who worked at one of the big banks in New York City. One day, they opened an account in their names, printed up hundreds of deposit slips with their account number in magnetic code, and put them at the tables in the bank lobby. All day long, people making deposits who did not have deposit slips with them, which would have been most depositors in the early 60's, unknowingly put their money into the account of these two guys. At then end of the day, the heroes of our little story cashed in their account, several hundred dollars worth (a fortune then!!), flew to the Caribbean, and were never seen again.

I bring this up because a new scam is to grab a bunch of those gift cards from the open racks at the big retailers, take them someplace and scan the ID numbers. The amount available on a card is not stored on the card itself but on a big central computer someplace, all that is scanned when you check out is the ID number. Once they have the ID numbers, our scammers put the gift cards that they took back into the racks at different store locations. Innocent buyers (you and me) subsequently select the cards and have them activated, not realizing that someone else already knows the ID numbers. All that remains for the scammers to do is to buy a few cards for small amounts, have them activated, and change the ID numbers on the cards. Changing the info on the magnetic strip is apparently easy to do. which is the reason the dollar amount is not stored there in the first place. The credit balances on the altered cards can be used to buy merchandise, or be sold at a discount for some quick cash. Happy Holidays.


Nonsensical_Flounderings said...

Clever, that's like the guys who wash the ink off of one dollar bills and use the paper to forge higher denominations.

This isn't something new though, Harry Houdini wrote about thie scheme in his book about con artists and scammers.


Jim said...

Houdini wrote about gift card at Wal*Mart, wow!!!! :)