WARNING: New Visa Gift Card Scam & How to Protect Yourself

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visa gift card scam

A New Type of Visa Gift Card Fraud

Hello everyone. I know the title is a little bit strong, but something happened to one of my readers the other day when buying a variable load Metabank gift card at a grocery store. I wanted to make sure to get your attention so you know what to look for and learn how best to protect yourself.

A Scary Story

Last night I received an email from Paul about a nightmare he had when purchasing a Metabank variable load Visa gift card at a local grocery store here in Las Vegas. He has been around this hobby for awhile and makes sure to check the packaging in case it has been tampered with.

After verifying the packaging was 100% in tact, he paid for his gift card and went to Walmart to liquidate it. At that point the card was denied and he noticed that four of the digits of the card number were scratched off. He also was eventually able to verify that the magnetic strip was cleaned of any data. The card was worthless and useless.

Here is what happened in his words:

So something happened to me today you might want to warn you readers about. I bought a 500.00 card today, I always make sure it has not been tampered with and the bar code is still covered. Well went to load it at Walmart and noticed 4 of the digits had been scratched off the card and the magnetic strip was wiped clean. It would not swipe of course. I went back to the store to show the manager and we proceeded to open that last 3 on the shelf and same thing with all of them.

visa gift card scam
This is the card. The number has not been altered in this image. It was missing when he opened the packaging.

So based on his experience, it seems likely that one of two things has happened with these cards:

  • The cards are being tampered with before leaving the factory
  • Someone is taking cards, altering them and then using counterfeit packaging to put them back on the shelves.

I really don’t know which of these scenarios is more plausible, but the fact remains that these tampered with cards were somehow completely sealed inside of the package with absolutely no tampering. Paul has made it clear that the packages did not have a rip, tear or any other opening.

visa gift card scam
This is not the exact package, but this is the same package type as what he purchased.

How to Protect Yourself

The manager told Paul how best to protect himself and I think it is a good strategy. If you are purchasing these cards bring them up to the register like you normally would. After the cashier scans them (but before you swipe your credit card), make sure to take the card out of the package and inspect it. That way you can verify the card hasn’t been altered.

I’m not going to lie and say that every cashier will be happy with you trying to do this, but perhaps you can explain the situation. If you bring the cards up to the cashier already opened, then they will suspect you of doing something. Always make sure to open them after they are scanned, but before you swipe your credit card.

Conclusion

This is a really scary type of fraud, because it is nearly impossible to see beforehand. How they are getting these tampered cards into the packages is beyond me, but I know I will be extra careful when purchasing these cards in the future. While Paul will be able to get his money back because he caught the fraud right away, it will be a hassle I’m sure. Oh and how many people don’t check these cards right away? A lot I’m sure.

If you have encountered anything similar to this please let us know in the comments.

Shawn Coomerhttps://milestomemories.com/
Shawn Coomer earns and burns millions of miles/points per year circling the globe with his family. An expert at accumulating travel rewards, he founded Miles to Memories to help others achieve their travel goals for pennies on the dollar. Shawn also runs a million dollar reselling business, knows Vegas better than most and loves to spend his time at the 12 Disney parks across the world.

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115 COMMENTS

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115 COMMENTS

  1. My mom gave me a vanilla visa gift card and when I checked my balance is was $100. I go to check out at the Dr today and the card declined. I pull my account online and it says my balance is $.01. When I check my transaction it has a purchase at CAMMYBOX SHOP for $99.99. I have never heard of this place. I’m now trying to dispute the charges.

  2. I purchased a vanilla Visa gift card for 100 dollars the other day , I bought it from walmart.com website and it was delivered by fed ex 2 days later.. I opened the package , which I made sure wasn’t tampered with and then proceeded to call and activate the card.. once activated I checked the balance and all was good .. well the next day I go to local grocery store a d try to use the card and it declined it.. so after several attempts of trying it I called customer service… they informed me that a transaction was made for the exact amount of what was on the gift card to a merchant named
    ” cammyboxshop” . .. So I’m now in the middle of a dispute trying to get my money back..

    • Be very careful with the dispute. I called the number on the back of the card and it was the same fraudulent organization that stole my money. They wanted a copy of my debit/credit card that was used to buy the prepay card and a copy of the debit/credit card statement. All they are doing is trying to empty that account as well. They promised me to refund what was stolen after 30 days. Right. They were desperate to get ahold of my information sending me emails every day.

  3. Yup, same thing happened with me. I registered the card a short while after buying it and shazamm…15 mins later the money was spent. I called my giftcard mall who is the provider…they claim they will refund the money after i mail a copy of the front/back of the card, the original receipt and the activation receipt. Oh, and they also have to have a copy of my credit card bill n picture of the credit card used to purchase the gift card to verify my identity. Ha…bet if i did that id lose all the money on that card as well. Boy i am really stupid. What stops people from printing bogus cards n changing the website address to register the card and then slipping these counterfeit cards right on the rack in whatever store. When you register the card the hackers get all of your cards information… just saying

  4. This happened to me today I purchased a $200 vanilla Visa gift card from CVS on my lunch break and after work I decided to go online and register it for online things like paying bills and the balance said $0 and there was one purchase from sax, it was for exactly $200 I don’t even know what that is. So I called the number on the back of the card, but the customer service Indian guy was really rude and he said that I guess he flagged the transaction but if the store takes the money that I won’t get my money back. He said there was nothing he could do and he was really rude and I feel like it’s messed up because I’m having a really hard time right now in between jobs and for this to happen to me like now I’m left not knowing what I’m going to do and this company is going to get away with robbing me it’s not fair.

    • If you used a credit or debit card to pay for it…most of them have consumer protection against fraud and should refund your money. But, most people that have credit/debit cards dont really have a need for a prepaid card.

  5. Just happened to me with a Vanilla gift card. It says Herd Solutions charged me. Tried to get customer service to help and nope. They couldn’t even connect me with someone in the US or a supervisor.

  6. This just happened to me I bought a visa gift card at Winn Dixie for a friend in Texas who uncle was diagnosed with cancer and I just wanted to send something to help out, I bought a 100 dollar gift card and before I could send it the money was gone the next day, I haven’t been able to get in touch with the Visa card customer service but this just happened 2-18-2022. Visa needs to take responsibility for this and monitor the people they hire to produce these cards. I live in Mississippi and the card was used in New Jersey ‍♂️

    • This just happend to me today I traded a IPhone 12 to GameStop they offerd me 396 in cash or 440 on Visa gift card I accepted the gift card. I went and brought Chinese food went to work next day I tried to buy somthing at autozone and it kept declining I checked the card it was only 10 cents left. I raced back to GameStop and they said there wasn’t anything to be done. I’m devastated

    • Hi,
      I received a $100 gift card from a neighbor for Christmas. I typically hang onto these types of things for emergencies; I was purchasing some medicine online for my husband and the card was denied. I’d never used it! It was left with .27 on it. I went online to verify and it showed 16 transactions on the same day for something called GoogleNikkiGames. Never heard of it. I was floored. I called the number on the card; spoke with someone named Aaron and explained my case. He said they would investigate.
      We’ll see where it goes.

  7. I got a gift card from this store and gave it as a gift the card had already been activated and hacked Walmart claims no responsibility and tells me to deal with Vanilla gift ownd by meta bank who has not yet resolved the problem and has claimed no responsibility for any thing I will never buy Vinellia gift cards again nor will I trust Walmart to sell me a gift card again

    • Stay away from cards serviced by Green Dot.. we got hit as well for 49.93 of a 50.00 card. Green dot will not do anything.. I believe they may be part of the fraud. Charge was made to Air Drop Angels, LLC. which is a scam organization. I believe this is an inside job.

  8. Got a giftcard visa $50 from Kroger in Ohio was waiting to need it to open it and use it it says someone in California used it at a target last Friday my balance is 0 should I file a police report too?

    • Same thing happened to me and my girlfriend, what city did you buy this at? Just wondering if it’s the same kogers

  9. It’s very possible this could be an operation by a group of BlackHatHackers. One person couldn’t pull something of this magnitude off alone. That probably explains why this has been going on for years. I strongly agree with the assumption that there is an insider also involved.

  10. I was given my christmas gift late from work ( today 1/15/22. $100 visa gift card/ says its valid to 1/20/30 on the card board incasement. packaging and card looked immaculat . I had 53.18 at check out at kroger but the card says it only has 39.94 on the card? i go home, log in and the only charge its the 39.94 for my groceries. Gift E says they bought it at Kroger. Kroger clearly wanted nothing to with it. soo, here goes, what do i do first? a special place to report this? what exactly do i call this kind of “thing”? If Kroger and visa both deny responsibility how do i escilate this? reporting this online now but i never seem to have luck with things like this.

    • You need to deal with the card issuer and call the number on the back (if you have a receipt showing a $100 load). If it shows only that there was a charge of $39.94 then that is strange. If it had been compromised it would show a charge somewhere else on the history.

  11. Almost the same thing just happened to me and other employees where I work. Our employer gave us $500.00 VISA gift card vouchers that could be used digitally, or to order a physical gift card. I ordered the physical card, received it on 1/4/22, activated it on 1/5/22 (via phone), and immediately checked the balance, as others had already had their cards wiped out. I had a ‘remaining balance’ of 0.47 – with two transactions made to “alfyhome supplies”, both transactions made on Sunday, 1/2/22. Two days before I even RECEIVED the card, and 3 FULL DAYS before it was even ACTIVATED (although the transaction history did show it was loaded on 12/14). The envelope was NOT tampered with, nor was it identifiable as any sort of card. VISA Vanilla Card issued by MetaBank. There’s a serious data breach going on there somewhere, or, as mentioned, happening during card production – as I cannot think of any other way this information could be compromised.
    VISA needs to check their own.

  12. I had bank issues and purchased a vanilla gift with 200.00. Paid 116. Geico and ordered a football from Amazon. When I went to use card again there was 0 balance..Stated Shanikatalv400201 took the money. How do I get my money back?

  13. I’m pretty sure it’s either the “activation website” or the number on the back of the card. What’s the first thing it asks you for before you begin the call? The card number. You are unknowingly giving the info the scammers need to steal the money on the card. Same with the website. That’s probably why it will continue to tell you there was an error and to try again. Registering the card is probably not a good idea either. It requires your name, DOB, address, etc. The websites and numbers are monitored by the scammers not a legitimate company. How to tell the legit companies from the thieves is pretty simple. Legitimate companies use very specific and legal terminology. Whenever you read a scammer page..well there’s just always something that seems off. Also, legitimate prepaid cards always allow you to set up your own pin number. It should NEVER be included on the card. The last 4 digits on the card number is definitely a scam. You are entitled to select you own personal pin, not chosen for you before you purchase a card. Hope this helps.
    #WhiteHatHacker/Anon/Here2Help#

  14. Yep, this just happened to me. My parents gave me 2 prepaid Visa gift cards for my birthday in June. One was for $25 and another for $100. I tried to use both gift cards after activating them. The $25 card had no issues but the $100 gift card would not allow transactions to be processed. I put the gift card aside and decided to save it. Fast forward to last week. I wanted to get started on Christmas shopping and remembered that using the number on the back of the card did not work for activation so I used the gift card website to activate it. I had to enter in all the information on the card and the website verified there was $100 available on the card. To test the card to make sure it was activated, I went to Dunkin Donuts and purchased 2 donuts. Imagine my surprise when the cashier processed the card and said I owed a balance of $1.36. I was stunned, because hours earlier there was $100 on the gift card! Sure enough, I checked the transactions and the funds had been drained through a large Amazon purchase and a small gaming website. I’m still working on getting this resolved. The gaming website promptly returned the money, but I do not have access to the funds because the card was “shut-down” by the company. Amazon will not refund the money. I will never give these as gifts and let my parents know that they may want to be careful giving these as gifts. This type of situation could lead to some uncomfortable miscommunications. Stay ever vigilant!!

  15. Same – I purchased two $400 Vanilla Visa Gift Cards. Both were used within a few dollars of their purchase amounts and their customer service has been giving us the run around for 4 months now. I absolutely will never buy another one and will tell anyone I meet not to as well.

  16. Same story again. Bought a $200 The Perfect Gift VISA card and went online to activate it by registering.
    IT NEVER WORKED. It only states to call cardholder services with the phone number on the back of the card. And of course, this is a misnomer, because they are NOT interested in helping cardholders at all.
    So VISA just ripped me off $200 as I cannot claim assistance to any brick and mortar bank branch.

  17. I had a similar Visa Gift card fraud, and I can’t get Ralph’s supermarket nor Visa to reimburse me. The card that I received as a gift was bought with a sticker barcode on the back, and the cashier nor the the person who bought it, noticed it. I read a lot of your stories, but I am curious if anyone has been able to get their money back from Visa?

    • Yep, just happened to me. Same scam, they replaced the barcode.
      Maybe we need a class action lawsuit. The credit card company who ultimately received the money is absolutely responsible. Who else?

  18. Hello: Yes ma’am. It took almost 3 months, but at my request the gave me a full refund on a new gift card. Thanks for asking.

  19. Same just happened to my son, that’s why I was searching the internet for how these scams work and found this page. My aunt in California bought a VISA gc on 6/21 for $200. She sent it to my son for a graduation gift about 3 weeks later, we are in Michigan. When he went to use the card it wouldn’t work. We went to the website on the back to register the card and check the balance. We saw that there was a $198.95 charge made at a Family Dollar in California on the card 2 days after my aunt bought it, leaving a $1.05 balance (so by the time she sent the card, the money was already long gone). The card was completely sealed with no obvious tampering of the package or the card. How does this scam work?? How do they do it? I’m guessing somehow they had the card numbers and were able to check the balance and as soon as they saw it was activated with $200, they went and spent it. I just don’t know how they pull it off. We called VISA and they said they would “investigate and get back with us,” but I’m not holding my breathe I asked the representative on the phone if this happens frequently and he said he gets several calls every day with the same situation!! VISA needs to figure out how this is happening and put some other kind of security features in place on their gift cards!!

    • I agree! same thing happened to me recently! 2$100.00 gift cards were given to me to buy my kids presents. I went to use them the same
      day i checked the balance. Which the $100 was there on one card and i hadn’t open the second card. Went to use a store. The card that i checked that day got declined. So i put it in my purse. i opened the second card and that one got declined. Called visa and they said 90 days to investigate. Both cards were used online Amazon for the full amounts on each cards. Visa someone how needs to start taking responsibility because these cards are obviously being tampered with before being packaged.

  20. I received a gift card with the receipt purchased at Walgreens Sunrise.
    When we attempted to use it three weeks later the card showed $0 balance
    though it was in its original packaging and could not have been physically used.
    We called Visa and they said that it had been used at a Walmart in Coral Springs for the full amount ($200) on the same day of purchase. We went back to Walgreens to attempt to understand how this happened (maybe somehow cashier involved??) but got nowhere other than to open dispute with visa which we did (takes 45-90 days process)

  21. I purchased a Visa Gift Card from Smiths Grocery store to pay for my Daughters phone bill. When I put the money on the card there was no weird packaging no out of place tags on the card and when I went to give the 3 digit code it was not there been scratched off contacted the bank whom the gift card was under. The Lady that was answering my phone call stated “You Don’t Have To Be Rude about This” continued calling back til I spoke with somebody else who was willing to help me and not be a rude bitch finally after 6 phone calls my anger was getting the best of me and when they told me that they could fax the paperwork or send it through the local mail in which it would take a couple of days to get to me but keep in mind I had 10 days or I would lose the money. Never got the paperwork from the Visa Gift Card 10 days has come and gone and I still don’t have my $68.00 but the US BANK VISA GIFT CARD still has my money. So don’t purchase a gift card from US BANK because if they cared about their CUSTOMERS they would inspect the cards before people spend their hard earned money

    • finally … someone that has the same f-ed up kind of card as i bought from the CVS in Fullerton California…
      package was all good put $100. on it drove 2 minutes home tried to use it to pay a bill on line but low and behold no god damn 3 digit security code on the back ! wtf!?
      worthless online and tried again at a store and a gas pump but the stip was cleared of any info …
      f-ing visa ! bunch of losers!

  22. 30 days ago I bought an online vanilla card from Vanillagifts.com, except the letter “V” has a arch over it. Got the virtual card and tried using but it kept getting denied. It’s impossible to find a means to contacting customer service. When I finally got a hold of someone, they were from another country. She asked for a little information and said “i was not in the system”. I relied “oh yeah? Well then how the heck do I have a charge from your company?”. She claimed I was a robot because my phone was breaking. But she paused when I questioned what was really going on. And asked her who she was. She was startled tried talking but was confused and put me on hold. That website is a scam. And chime is taking forever to give me my money from a dispute that is taking longer than 30 days. Why hasn’t Visa taken them down???.

  23. SAME HERE!!! The only ones who win are companies like Vanilla that have ripped me off of a $250. Gift I received. They claim it was used in California but it was purchased and in my possesion in Miami Florida. I filled a report with them and they denied it…and that was final according to them. They don’t care if it was stolen or not because they got the cash and that’s all they care about. I HATE VANILLA GIFT CARDS!!! Because of them I will never buy another gift card. I will make sure I tell everyone not to buy VANILLA GIFT CARDS. 3 of my friends work at one of the big pharmacy chains and I told them to tell all their customers at the cashier not to buy those cards. RIP-OFF!!! Buyer Beware!!!

  24. I bough 3 prepackaged $100 VISA gift cards as a Christmas gift, when the giftee tried to use the first one, it had zero balance. Same with the second. I reported this to Visa card fraud and have already put FAR more than $300 of my own time investigating, talking with the store where I purchased, long hours on hold with VISA, plus $36 dollars worth of faxes to Visa services. VISA fraud department confirmed that someone with a location/name completely unrelated to me had used them for Amazon purchases. Here I trusted the good name of VISA and VISA is making me spend HOURS and HOURS (well more than $300 of my work time), plus my own money to help them investigate the fraud. No one even ever apologized. I gave the giftee $300 cash instead of new cards, so I’m out $600 plus the fax money. HUGE wait times for me to try to check with VISA to see if I will ever get the scammed cards replaced. DO NOT EVER (EVER!!) BUY VISA GIFT CARDS! JUST GIVE A CHECK OR CASH. I feel like they just want me to give up, and if I valued my time and money correctly I would, because I’ve lost so much more than the original $300.

  25. Same thing here, no evidence of packaging opened the issuer Blackhawk network is very difficult to get a hold of and make claim on the fraudulent use. CVV and strip info was not there card value was used in Vegas which is about 800 miles from us. As far as getting money back when, you get ahold of the them they tell you no problem but then never come through I guess hoping you forget? ?better to never buy a GC, give cash check or transfer as it is a nightmare to recover this possible insider scam

  26. THIS IS AN OUTRAGE!!! I WANTED TELL EVERYBODY ABOUT THIS GIFT CARD SCAM BS!!!!! IT’S GETTING OUT OF HAND!!!! LET PEOPLE KNOW ON THE NEWS, FACEBOOK, SUNDAY PAPER EVERYWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I had my hopes up for that 50$ gift card. Makes me soooooo mad!!!!!!! I can’t do anything about it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!(I have a picture,but nowhere to upload)(12-28-20 2:07aAZ) GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  27. I was given a gift card in the amount of $50.00 for X-mas. (12-25-20 12:40am) The card was cut off at the top where the magnetic strip is and the CVV2 was scratched off. What should I do(if any)now?

  28. I was given a gift card in the amount of $30.00 from my employer on Dec. 15, 2020. On Dec. 16, 2020, I went to make a purchase from Walmart. The card declined. So, I scanned it again to pay for the purchase and it declined a 2nd time. When I contact the representative, I was informed that $29.99 was sent to someone’s paypal account, and I had a balance of 1-cent left on the card. I have filed a complaint, filled out paperwork. I was informed it will take 90 days for investigation. This is ridiculous!

    • Purchased 2, $200 Visa Gift Cards on Amazon for my sister. They were fulfilled and delivered directly to her. She activated the cards. One card she tried purchasing an item online, payment declined, no funds on card. The second card she went to a local book store, only 99 cents available on the card.
      Amazon said they won’t handle it, Visa Gift Card seller is now investigating.
      My suggestion to everyone, this could happen to you.
      What I thought was safe ended up being a hassle. My $400 is tied up. I went to my bank got my sister a $400 gift I sent directly to her. NEVER AGAIN WILL I PURCHASE A VISA GIFT CARD ON AMAZON. I will not be getting a refund, if I get anything it will money on a gift card. It could take 90 days to get any money.
      I purchased gift cards on 11-23-2020. My sister activated them and tried using them the following week.

      • I am so sorry to hear that this is happening to us. I wish the attorney general in each of our state would investigate these gift card fraud activities. I sympathize with you. We need help in getting our monies back. Take care.

          • Vinalla gift card i bought at 711 for 200 dollars in December and activated it at register before leaving the store and balance when I tried buying gift a pizza at 711 was 0 dollars so I was told wait 24 hours and I did only to find out someone bought 200 online at Nordstrom. I filed a dispute and hope to get the money back…

        • I agree! I was thinking that visa should be accountable and maybe if all of us victims speak up and try to sue them. This is fraud going on and at some point i start to think if visa has something to do with it. Are their employees who package the cards some how committing the frauds. Someone how they need to start helping or face fraud actions against them.

    • I was just given a gift card in the amount of $50.00 for X-mas.(12-24-20) It was cut from the top and the CVV2 was scratched off. I’m sure I can’t use it anywhere without the CVV2 now. I’m screwed right? Is there anything I can do?

      • Same thing happened to me. I received a $50. gift card and it is useless. Pissed. Mine has not been altered however it keeps saying declined . I went to a few places but if you call the number on the back it asks you to activate the card which I did and the recording said I had $50 available. But everywhere it has been declined

    • I had the exact same thing happen, got the card activated it spent 11$ on it and then boom 39.99$ from paypal *puregains. Was only 50$ but i got it as a gift, really messed up if you ask me.

    • If it went to someone’s paypal account they should have been able to find out who did it. Did you ever get your money back?

  29. I was giving a gift card in the amount of $30.00 from my employer on Dec. 15, 2020. On Dec. 16, 2020, I went to make a purchase from Walmart. The card declined. So, I scanned it again to pay for the purchase and it declined a 2nd time. When I contact the representative, I was informed that $29.99 was sent to someone’s paypal account, and I had a balance of 1-cent left on the card. I have filed a complaint, filled out paperwork. I was informed it will take 90 days for investigation. This is ridiculous!

    • Good Evening: I just want to mention that I have received my refund on Wed., March 3, 2021. The Vanilla Gift Card Company sent me another gift card at my request. I immediately called and had the card activated and made a purchase right away to spend at the store. I’m glad that I have my received my refund, but at the same time being extra cautious next time. Thank you so much, and I pray that all those who had their money stolen will receive the victory as well in receiving their refund. Please take care. God Bless.

  30. I’m so upset. I bought a $500 gift card. This is how I make online Christmas purchases so that my personal bank account isn’t hacked. Within 24 hours some made a purchase for 1.95 then reversed the charge. (Testing it I suppose). Then made a PayPal purchase of 498.00. I called the number on the website where I registered the card and added a pin. It may be resolved in 30, 60, or 90 days. Now what am I supposed to do- hand IOU’s to my kids???

  31. This same thing happened to me. I purchased a OneVanilla prepaid MasterCard and loaded it with $300 at Couche Tard at 8067 Saint-Laurent Blvd. in Montreal on 11/17/2020. Got home, opened it up, last four digits on the card were scratched off. Packaging showed no signs of tampering. Went back to the store, they wouldn’t do anything. Called OneVanilla. With the barcode number they were able to provide me with the last four missing digits. Checked the balance online and all was ok. Next day I tried buying on Amazon and payments were being declined. Pulled up the card balance on OneVanilla again. Zero dollars available. There was a pending transaction for the entire $300 balance with some merchant I’ve never dealt with nor heard of in my life. Currently being investigated. Can take up to 90 days and no guarantees that the investigation will end in my favor. Pretty much never buying one of these stupid cards again. Manufacturers and retailers obviously don’t have the controls in place to ensure they haven’t been compromised.

    • Same thing happened to me. $300 Visa gift card purchased on 11-20-2020 @ supermaket & on 11-21-2020 a Nordstrom charge for $300 & 0 balance showed up. Nordstrom in New Jersey. I live in California. Nordstrom can’t help because card was 3rd party & not Nordstrom. So I have to fill out a claim form & I figure I may or my not get my cash back. Effin sucks!

    • Hey friend, exact same thing happened to me on September 13th, 2020 at the Couche Tarde 700 Chemin Lucerne Ville Mont-Royal, Quebec. How did your case get resolved?

  32. I was given a $50 gift card just like this and it was in the packaging with no signs of being used or open. I activated it today 4/16/20 and it showed me a balance of $50. I went to the grocery store and it was declined. I got out to my car and checked the balance again and it showed someone used on paypal and literally within an hour of me “registering” the card on their site. The transaction had the number 4029357733 and Michaelener PayPal. I called and they told me they would block the card which was pointless because it was already used in full but stated if Paypal sent the money back they would issue me a new card and requested that I contact Paypal. PayPal was unable to even find the transaction. I really believe MetaBank is not legit at this point.

    • Damn!!!!!! It happened to me as well, i lost $196. They are so freaking good cheater that they use paypal to buy something so that they won’t even be caught.

    • This scam with a Visa gift card just hit me not even 24 hours ago! I purchased a Visa gift card at 3:16pm on 6/21/20. I went to use at Cracker Barrel in Lancaster NY at 3:36pm and funds were already swiped. My card declined several times and left me puzzled. I’ve contacted the police and Visa. I am so puzzled that I searched google to come across this blog. This is unbelievable…the package was definitely enclosed in original package and appeared completely untampered . I’ve done everything in my power. Some people are just awful

    • My remaining visa gift card balance was also transferred to MICHAELENER on PayPal with that exact same transaction number on 28/04/20. Except I was actually able to use my card 3 times before this scam happened all within the same month. Not sure when this card was activated as it was a gift. Will not be trusting these Visa/MasterCard gift cards anymore in the future!

    • I can not believe this shit is happening! I had reviewed a $50 one from my job for Xmas, dates 12/17/2020 and just went to use it at the gas station on 12/26/2020 it kept declining even after I had registered it and now says the balance is $0!!!!! What the fck!

      • Ma’am, I am so sorry that this had to happen to you as well. You can file a complaint for unauthorized purchase without your knowledge with the Gift Card Company, but you have to submit a copy of the gift card front and back. It will take up to at least 90 days. I hope this helps. Take care.

  33. I bought a $50 gift card on 12/20/19 for my daughter. When I opened the untampered package, only half the card was in the package. The half with the magnetic strip and cvc code was gone. When I called to report it, visa said the card had zero balance and it had been used at Fry’s and Circle K exactly 24 hours after purchase.

    This sounds like a major operation.

  34. It is Oct 2019 and this scam is ongoing. Isn’t anyone ever going to catch these people? Sure does sound like an inside job and no one is doing anything about it.

    Received a $25 Visa Gift Card by Metabank and same story, went to use it and it’s rejected over and over, I call the automated number which says that the card was never properly activated. Contacted Metabank, they said too bad, contacted the Better Business Bureau (which has hundreds of complaints from the past 3 years only) and Metabank still refused to do anything, says the money was kept at the store level. This is a SCAM!

  35. I received replacement of META VISA debit gift card and immediately checked the balance amount and activated. I tried three different retail location and all of them declined my replacement card. I called customer service and they told me that they need to unblock “soft lock” which I didn’t understand why they even locked the card after I activated. I’m inclined to think that this bank might randomly doing this and hope for some people just dropped the case as unfortunate circumstance instead of dispute the case. Will see if I will be able to use this card after 3 to 5 business day as they said. I will never purchase VISA gift card.

    • Hello my friend: I had to wait almost 4 months or so, but they gave me my money back in the mail on a new card. I immediately spent it up. File your complaint with them and scan and send them the paperwork to get your money back. Keep us informed on the progress. Thanks.

  36. I purchased a Metabank Visa GC for $100 for Christmas gift for husband on 12/15/18. He didn’t use it until last week cuz he was saving it to make this one special purchase. He went to use the GC and discovered it had $0 balance. He did some research and it had been used 7 days after I had loaded the money at 2 different grocery stores in Glendale, CA (we live in Ventura County). I immediately called customer service with the GC company and they told me I was out of luck they couldn’t help me since the unauthorized charges had occurred over 60 days. I then asked to speak with their fraud department since I felt this was an inside job (packaging not tampered/card # not scratched) & they refused arguing the 60 day rule. I will never buy these GC again.

  37. This just happened to me with a 100 dollar gift card, purchased at the Fred Meyer on Burnside in Portland, Oregon.
    Thankfully I opened it up to register it right there in the store, and was unable to do so because the last four digits were scratched off. So a manager grabbed another off the shelf, and the last 4 were missing off THAT on as well! She gave me a cash refund thankfully. Close call. Always open and register your cards right when you purchase them, for safety.
    My question is: HOW is the criminal able to profit from this? I used my credit card to buy this gift card….where did the money go?

  38. We bought a Visa gift card at Vons for $280.00 dollars and same thing. Someone took the money at a Walmart. This was back on Sep 09, 2017 and Sep 10, 2017, money was taken. I have waited for the 90-day process and Meta Bank has the close claim. Stating that I was missing paperwork. Bunch of lies, I have proof of sending everything they asked. I got so disappointed. So, I went ahead and reported to the news channel. They are investigating and will air hopefully soon. All consumers need to be aware of this fraud! I don’t doubt that insiders from these gift cards are in it. How can it be that they know when money is loaded into the card and next day money is gone.

  39. I was given a $100 Visa gift card for my birthday in June 2017 and, like others, did not want to use it right away so when I finally decided to call in October 2017 to be sure the balance was the original $100 much to my surprise I only had $52.94 on the card. This card was put in my dresser drawer and never taken out of the packaging when I received it. I have been trying to get Visa to reinstate the full amount since I never used the card but that is proving to be very hard. They actually canceled the original card that was used, charged me $5.95 to issue me a new card for the $52.94. I cannot believe this as they gave me the persons name who used the card and it sure was not myself. I work at a store that sells the Visa, American Express, and Master Cards and we have quit selling them because of all the fraud. I agree that something has to be done to insure a persons purchase of these gift cards or these companies need to quit offering them for sale.

  40. Just had the same thing happen to me. Received a Metabank visa card for $130 as a gift back in July. Had a particular purchase in mind so I waited until after summer to use it. Turns out five days after it had been activated, someone spent 124.95 at the family dollar store in Hemet, CA. Must be some kind of inside job because the card was completely enclosed in the package and all the numbers are still on it. These thieves have all of the information on the front and back of the card before the cards are even open. They also know when it gets activated. I called Meta-bank to report the problem and they said too bad, the purchase was too long ago so I could not dispute it. I told them I didn’t care about the money so much but they have an internal problem they should look into. He apologized and said there was nothing he could do. These companies need to get their act together or nobody will buy their cards anymore. That said, DON’T BUY METABANK CARDS.

  41. This just happened to me I was given a gift card for my birthday on the 18th and the 19th it was used for the full amount at a Walmart. I’m in the process of trying to get the money put back on it but I’m sure they’ll figure out a way not to give it to me.

  42. If you have problems with Walmart cards here is a suggestion.
    I had someone steal my Bank of America card and used it to buy $5000 worth of gift cards from various stores in the state of Florida.
    Walmart Global Investigations
    Hotline 479-204-2973
    May be who you can contact for help. My situation somewhat different but they have been helping me.

  43. Metabank says my $50. was turned over to the State because of inactivity on the card. Problem is the State says they never received it. Metabank is getting away with theft! Why doesn’t someone investigate them? Maybe if we all file a fraud complaint with the banking authorities something can be done.

  44. I received a $7 Staples Meta bank rebate card in the mail back in November with a May 2017 expiration date. The card stayed in the house until I tried using it yesterday at Staples. The balance was zero. Got online. Two purchases for $1 online and $6 in Whittier CA on Feb 15th & 16th 2017. I’m in Michigan. Contacted Meta Bank. To file a fraud claim, one must print out a claim form, complete the form and have it notarized. Of course, it costs more for the notary public than the card is worth. They insisted that the process must be followed. Obviously, that is not going to happen. So, perfect scenario for massive under-the-radar fraud. I think retailers might what to reconsider using Meta bank as their provider, and the general public should not buy their cards.

  45. Use a clean email account for your financial transactions and accounts, do not use that account for ANY other online activity.
    you will automatically know that all mail not coming to THAT account is not related to your real financial situation. scrutinize all mails coming to your special account and request ‘text-based’ mails whenever possible.

  46. I am a victim of this hideous scam! I purchased $350.00 worth of Visa cards at Walmart in Tewksbury, MA. It is so humiliating to have you grandson call you and tell you when he went to use the Visa card to buy something, it had no money on it, and it was used by someone in California. I am trying to fight this crap now, with hopes that I will be able to replace the money on the cards. Incidentally the other 3 cards were comprimised too.

    • OMG, I had it happen to me. I bought a Visa at Walmart in Northern California and had $50 put on it. I gave it to my grandson for Christmas, he tried to use it and it only had $4 on it! I was furious. The packaging didn’t look tampered with. The assistant manager told me “it wasn’t their fault” but they did replace it with another card. My grandson used the card before we left the store so no one else could use it. I will never buy any type of gift card again:(

  47. I am a victim of fraud also and it is not worth buying this gift cards. Ralph’s and other places that sell them should discontinue offering them due to this trouble. I’m sure there are many victims out there and the card issuer does not care because they are still making money. Avoid the pain and heartache and just don’t buy them period. Get something else as a gift.

  48. My daughter was a victim of the Walmart/Visa Gift Card Scam, She lost $150.00 at Walmart, she purchased the card and 3 days later when my granddaughter went to use it, nothing was on the card. Walmart and the company that supports the card Green Dot Inc, are refusing to refund the amount. There is video of the crook using the card at a ATM in a Walmart, I have the original card with packaging, I filed a claim through Green Dot Inc. , they denied the claim, stating it was a valid transaction, I filed a police report, filed a complaint with the local BBB. Walmart, Green Dot Inc. , and Visa refuse to investigate in good faith, none have contacted the Asset Protection Depts. at either Walmart, the police will not investigate because of the low dollar amount. I have spent several hours on the phone and at the Walmart where the card was purchased, each time I am told a different story of what to do. I have contacted two police depts., the company that issued the card, ( Green Dot Inc. ) two Walmart’s , Visa, and approx. 12 phone calls later, several visits , none will accept responsibility. This occurred in Long Beach, Ca.

  49. Due diligence is also important if you get hit. I got my card at Walmart and immediately called when I got home as it wasn’t swiping.. somehow these suckers are also demagnetized.

    It took a long time to try to bypass the menu to get to an agent (considering it’s impossible to type in 4 missing digits) and so I submitted the paperwork and they said to expect a refund within 2weeks. Of course 2 weeks goes by, no check… and called in again. Turns out they closed the case as they found that there were 2 large charges made. Supposedly if they go through, they can dispute it.. if not, then it’s “supposed” to go back to my card. Part of me wants it to go through, so the retailers can reach into their systems and see where my goods are getting delivered to. Course, that means this will delay the refund process. =/

    Thank you, if it wasn’t for coming across this article a couple weeks ago.. wouldn’t have made the connection that this card was definitely tampered. The packaging wasn’t ripped or anything funny and I thought I scratched off the numbers myself.

  50. Thanks for the heads up. I will check them immediately after purchase. Sounds like the best course of action is to immediately check the balance and ask for a replacement if there isn’t the proper balance on the card.

  51. I don’t understand how people benefit by stealing unactivated cards? Do they write the numbers down and then wait for them to be activated and buy things online with the number?

    • I had a WalMart Visa gift card for over $200. Kept it for a year, then decided to register it and use. The instructions say the card has to be registered before it can be used. So I registered it, then went in to make sure the balance was correct and it showed -0-. It showed there was a purchase made to Amazon for the same amount the week before. IMPOSSIBLE..I hadn’t registered the card at that time..how did the transaction go through? I personally opened the packaging the card was in so I know no one else in my house used it. Green Dot won’t stand behind it and I’m out the money. I checked w/Amazon and WalMart and there is nothing they can do. Any suggestions? Green Dot is HORRIBLE…

  52. I doubt it would have helped in this case, but I would be totally okay with stores keeping the higher value cards behind the counter. My local Staples has stopped stocking $200 Visa & MC cards because torn strips/fraud (at least, that’s what they told me).

  53. Love how this store begins in Las Vegas…

    At any rate, paying for the card after opening the package would obviously prevent this type of fraud from happening, however, this is introducing complexity into the transaction. Given that there definitely a double digit percentage of cashiers and managers who are uneasy about selling high value gift cards (and many of them) with credit card, you risk having additional eyes on the transaction, and ultimately being told ‘cash only’ or something along those lines (whether this is an actual store policy or not).

    Thad said, why did Paul wait so long to open the package after having purchased it?

    As habit, after paying I immediately bust open the package, inspect the card, make sure receipt matches bar code numbers, etc.

    If card has been altered (and clearly having the last 4 digits of the card scratched off is indication of altering), one can immediately call customer service on this, show it to the manager of the store, and more or less get this resolved then and there (or at least to the point where your funds are no longer in danger). It’s highly unlikely that the would be criminal could have the time to drain said card so soon after purchase.

    Waiting so long to check the card after purchase (or rather not checking it immediately after purchase) is a ‘head scratcher’… While Paul thankfully prevailed, it seems apparent that much of his profit was eaten in fuel (and time) in driving to WM, waiting in line not being to accomplish said BB load or what-have-you and then having to drive back to the grocery store again, without even considering how long one must wait for a refund…

    • You make a good point, but I would assert that most people don’t open the cards and check them right away. As you say though that is a prudent practice and one that everyone should partake in. On the flip side, once your transaction is completed with the store, if the card has been tampered with, you are still going to have a headache getting your money back. It isn’t possible for them to simply reverse the transaction so it still is a hassle. Thanks for sharing!

      • I found out that my gift had been compromised before I activated the GC. Luckily I was right next to the grocery store and went inside to speak to store manager. After several calls and almost 40 minutes of waiting, the manager was able to move the funds from VGC to MCGC. Store managers do have the ability to help.

      • Visa card scam just happened to us. We gave a gift card as a wedding present and when they went to use it the balance was zero. Somehow as soon as it was activated someone else made two transactions on it making it useless.!

  54. Just bought one this afternoon got home opened it the middle numbers were missing. Went back to the grocery store and they said can’t help me from the store level but they did call the gift card 1800 number and explained the whole situation. The help desk for the gift card said the money was there in the card and they will gladly send me a replacement card.

  55. Today at the grocery store over half of $500 VGS on display had their pin code strips torn off. I finally found an intact one and it worked fine.

  56. I purchased 2 $200 Mastercards at Staples on 3/23. I didn’t unload one until late April. At the end of May I checked the balance on the other and there was only $4.45 on it. The fraudulent purchases occurred on 5/25 and 5/28. Lesson learned, if I can’t unload it quick I will register it. I’m just assuming that would help. I never had luck at Walmart with these cards, that’s why I had them floating around so long. The packaging seemed fine to me and the card looks ok.

  57. While purchasing a “dud” would be terrible, what worries me is if these scheme propagate or become too difficult to stop, visa will stop offering cards – or make a two step verification process or something which would lead to extra steps, add hassle, and possibly a loss of anonymity. “Hey Chris, that’s you for your 20th verification this week, we’ve let the irs know that you’ve done nothing illegal but you sure do process a lot of money. “. Not that there is anything to hide but I would quit before being required to deal with the irs.

    • I’m equally worried about the Secret Service and their itchy trigger fingers when it comes to civil forfeiture.

  58. Happened to me in March, still waiting for a refund. Had to fax copy of card and receipt. Then was sent an affidavit to fill out, which also required filing a police report since someone unloaded the balance at a Walmart. My solution is to not buy these insecure cards, it is a known problem to them. Now I just stick to Staples and Simon Malls.

    • I got an affidavit to fill out, but I did not report to police when someone drained money out at Walmart and CVS. Can I report to police now after one month happened?

  59. I had something similar happen to me with a $500 GC I purchased at a grocery store back in January. My case is still open and I haven’t gotten all my money back. I have since stopped buying GCs at grocery stores. I found it useful to keep up with this flyertalk thread, which is devoted entirely to gift card fraud: http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/manufactured-spending/1588993-gift-card-fraud.html

    Traveling with Grant also had a useful post about a similar GC fraud from February of this year: http://travelwithgrant.boardingarea.com/2015/02/08/gift-card-warning-check-packaging-for-signs-of-tampering/

  60. I had this happened to me at a local grocery store. After I had removed the card from the package, the last 4 digits were scratched off. I inspected the packaging and it does not look like it was tempered with. I called the # on the back of the card right away and the agent on the phone was able to close this card and send me a new one in the mail. Now everytime I buy cards from that grocery store, I would request to have the card opened first before I purchase it.

  61. Crazy. Thanks for passing along. Great tip, but it seems like a pain to open them during the transaction. Do you think you’ll actually do that, or just deal with it if/when this happens to you? Has there been a conclusion to Paul’s story? Did he get his $500 back? (I assume yes, given the other bad cards he and the manager found at the store.)

      • I bought a card through Amazon.com. the package was not visibly tampered with. I checked the balance on the card and it was correct but moments later when I tried to pay my phone bill the money was gone. It said it was used for Google Nikki games with a California zip code beside it. I looked up giftcardmall.com and read about several others who had been scammed just like me.

      • 6-11-2022 I had lost my bank card while that was being replaced I bought a visa gift card from walgreens. Loaded it with $270 to make a truck payment. Payment never went through so then I went to the groceries and again it wasn’t working. I had already checked the card balance online on my way to the store and again i wasn’t able to use it. The balance was still available at the time. I went on amazon and bought a $25 car part and that went through. So then i went back on the visa website the same night and added a 4 #pin. I thought maybe then it will work in the stores. Today 6-15-22 I tried to make another online purchase since it seemed to have worked on amazon and it said insufficient balance. I checked and it was 0.00 It said someone used it on
        6-14-22 10:05pm -$242.96 DIGITAL TUTOR O400248A9F06 The card was sealed it didn’t look like it was tampered never again. Idk what to do? The number on the card is only a operator about card balance etc.

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