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Alleged scammers arrested with compromised gift cards in Guelph

File photo. File photo.

Two Toronto-area men have been arrested in Guelph after staff at a local business caught them replacing gift cards with cards that had their data altered.

Officers were called to the store on Woodlawn Road West around 4 p.m. Thursday.

Employees saw two men pocketing Apple gift cards and replacing them with cards that had been tampered with.

“The cards are believed to have been compromised in such a way that once activated, the funds would be loaded onto a predetermined account, leaving the purchaser with worthless cards,” Guelph police said in a news release.

Officers arrived and arrested the men inside the store. Police said both had “numerous” Apple gift cards in their pockets. A bag that appeared to be full of Apple gift cards was also found inside their vehicle.

Police said a second business reported two suspects matching the men’s description doing the same thing earlier in the day.

The pair, aged 27 and 24, are charged with fraud over $5,000, theft over $5,000 and possessing stolen property over $5,000.

The Retail Council of Canada says $3.8 million in losses were reported due to gift card fraud in 2021.


Guelph police explained how the common fraud works in an interview with CTV Kitchener last year.

“Essentially what fraudsters are doing is they’re coming into businesses that have like the big rolodex of different types of gift cards. They’re taking some of the gift cards without purchasing them, taking them home and then they’re laser printing barcodes of gift cards that they personally own, sticking it over top of the barcode,” Det. Brooke Drake with Guelph Police’s fraud unit said.

The scammers then bring the tampered cards back to the store.

“So you’re loading money onto their card, as opposed to purchasing a gift card for whomever,” said Drake.


Police said there are several ways to spot a fraudulent gift card.

First, look at the barcode to see if it’s raised. If is it, peel the sticker off.

Second, check to see if the gift card that being purchased matches the description on the cashier’s computer.

“Let’s say you’re picking up an Amazon gift card for $50… [the cashier] will ring it in and it could come up as an LCBO gift card, a PlayStation card, it could come up as anything,” said. Det. Drake. “That’s the card that the fraudster personally has in their name, so you’re loading money onto their card.” Top Stories

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