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Gift Card Scammers Hit Humboldt

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

HUMBOLDT, Tenn.- Officials said scammers have found a new way to cheat businesses out of hard earned cash.

Humboldt police are investigating a new scam that involves the misuse of debit cards and gift cards that can cost thousands of dollars.

Package store owner Barbara Graves said her liquor store is just one of many stores that have been targeted. "You know this time of year you want to think everybody is on their best behavior but we find out its actually their worst," said Graves.

Police said two men fraudulently bought 16 cartons of cigarettes and more than $100 dollars worth of lottery tickets. " A lot of hard work that we do around here to take that away from us it's very devastating," said Graves.

Officials said the customers also asked for a cash back transaction which put their bill over $1,400 dollars. "Very big hit I don't think we've ever been hit like that," said cashier Deborah Avery.

Police said the register first declined the transaction. Workers said the purchase was approved only after the men entered in an authorization code instead of their pin. Officials said that code took the register off line, which ultimately approved the transaction on paper, but not in cash.

"We were scammed the card was no good it showed approval on the credit card system," said Graves." Somehow he was able to manipulate the system."

Graves said she believes the two men worked to gain her trust through casual conversation. She said the customer even gave her a fake name and phone number for business.

"It breaks my heart," said Graves."You know it could mean bonuses for my employees just paying the bills that's a lot of money coming out of your income bracket so it's not good."

Officials told the store owner that they have been tracking a possible trail of other scams involving these debit/ gift cards. If you have any information in this case call Humboldt Police or Crime Stoppers.
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