I am amazed how many people on eBay and such sites can sell dozens if not more of gift cards “claiming” to be worth a mystery amount, is this a scam? Also, I see people bidding on them for $500 dollars that reach near that amount and the sellershas dozens of them? How can anyone afford to lose money and purchase such high dollars amounts? where is the profit in that. I am tempted to bid but but something is fishy about those auctions. Where do they get all those gift cards? thanks for your time, dave
There are legitimate gift cards that can be sold or transfered, according to the terms of the purchase from the store. For example, a card that I buy for the local health market, Vitamin Cottage, has a printed value of $100 on it. If I could somehow buy it for $80 and sell it on eBay for $90, then theoretically I’d make $10 and the buyer would save $10, a win:win.
But that’s not typically how it works. I believe that there are three categories of gift cards that make there way onto eBay, personally:
- Gift card with purchase promotions (legit)
- Low value gift cards misrepresented as high value cards (scam)
- Stolen or used-up gift cards reprogrammed to have a higher value (scam)
The key is whether these cards are stored-value devices or not. If they’re just paper documents (think gift certificates) then they should be uniquely serial-numbered and you should be able to ask the seller for the number and call the store to confirm it’s legit.
But stored value cards just use a magnetic strip to record key information like the card ID number (on good systems) or the actual value left on the card (in older, more easily fooled systems). If you happen to have a mag-strip reader/writer, you can easily imagine how it might not be too difficult to swipe a card, decode the data on the mag strip, change it, re-encode it, and write it back onto the strip, all without leaving any apparent trace.
The problem, of course, is that the card doesn’t actually have any legitimate value and it’s just as possible you’ll be busted for using a counterfeit card as get some merchandise at a discount.
This really seems like a good case of “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, in my opinion.
There’s additional reading you can do on this too, if you’re more curious:
• Gift card scams
• Watch out for discount gift card scams
• Missouri sues man after $9000.00 eBay gift card scam
• iTunes Music Store Gift Card Scam
There’s plenty more out there, but as a general comment, I’d skip trying to buy gift cards from someone you don’t know. The chance of fraud is just too high.