How can I make sure my Gift Card is not a Scam

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by CSanchez, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #1
    I purchased a Apple Store gift card for 20 % off today, it's value is over $2000.

    I went to an Apple Store and verified the amount and then had a Apple Rep and the store manager issue two new gift cards in the same amount. I have the receipt showing that this was done, which includes the gift card info for all four cards and the balance transfer.

    The guy does not appear to be a scammer. He's an older guy and I found postings with his phone number online from years back. He's a member of local bicycle association that has membership dues and probably has all his info. There are racing results on other bicycle racing sites with his information showing he competed in local events. By the way I'm talking about road bikes, Lance Armstrong bikes which was the reasoning for his sell, he needed the cash to finish his bike project which according to him is custom built 6,000 carbon bicycle.

    I have also linked a google/youtube account back to him and a ebay account which by the way has all positive feedback.

    I don't know if I am being paranoid because I got such a good deal but I want to make sure nothing wrong happens with my money. I did a search for Apple Gift Card fraud and I found a thread where a guy bought a gift card and verified the amount at an Apple Store and then had the balance on the card zeroed out. In that case a Apple employee was involved and basically the way they do it is buy gift cards with stolen credit cards, sell them for cash. Once the credit card is reported stolen a investigation ensues and eventually the gift card balance is cleared.

    That case was back in 2011.

    What I would like to do is save the gift cards and wait till the new Macbook Pro's come out and buy a maxed out one on the day I can get it or even have it preordered.

    What I am afraid of is waiting to do that and then having the balance cleared by the time Apple decides to release the new notebooks.

    I'm wondering if there is anything I can do to avoid that or guarantee that nothing like that happens. I'm not familiar with Gift Card apps like Paycloud but I'm hoping something like that could help me out.

    I've checked the balance like 10 times already and I just bought them lol I'm hoping a Apple insider or someone else can give me some type of assurance that nothing will happen. My hope is that Apple has put in a system to avoid this since 2011.
     
  2. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #2
    I'm thinking I'm going to use the full amount of the gift cards online right now and see if I like the current retina macbook pro and if I don't I can return it right away and get store credit? or do I get another gift card?

    Would this help my situation at all?
     
  3. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    #3
    You got 4 new gift cards?
    I think you are over thinkng this.
     
  4. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #4
    I'm hoping that I am over thinking it.

    No, I have two gift cards with 2433 on them.

    Apple has a 2000 dollar limit, one is 2000 and the other one is for the remainder amount.

    The receipt shows the two original gift cards being returned and then the purchase of two new gift cards in the same amount.

    Looking at the receipt I did notice something a bit weird,

    The Original gift cards are listed on the receipt as Gift Card New( Part # C0693lla)

    and the ones I have now are listed as Multichannel Gift Card (Part #D6417GA)

    I'm assuming Multichannel means I can use it at Apple store and Itunes?

    Either way I have two valid gift cards and the receipt. None of the gift cards had the PIN # scratched off. I scratched off the PIN on the two I have to check the balance online and everything is good.
     
  5. macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    #5
    If you are that paranoid about it then add another layer between you and the seller.

    Buy a Mac with your gift cards and then return it for even newer gift cards.
     
  6. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #6
    I think that's what I'm going to do, and there is no restocking fee or anything like that.

    I might end up liking it and just keeping it.
     
  7. macrumors 603

    justperry

    #7
    You seem to be paranoid:p

    You're good to go, you got two new gift Cards so don't worry.

    If you really really REALLY are that paranoid then buy a rMBP and return it!
     
  8. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #8
    I just placed my order for a rMBP lol and I will probably return it the day the UPS guy brings it to me, but who knows I might try it out for a few days.

    I just want to be able to say that Apple not only reissued the new gift cards to me but they also accepted them and then refunded me the amount again.

    I ended up spending 33 dollars on top of what I had in gift cards for a rMBP with 2.6 and 16 GB RAM.
     
  9. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #9
    I'm bumping this to see if anyone has other input.

    Thanks
     
  10. macrumors G3

    Huntn

    Joined:
    May 5, 2008
    Location:
    The Misty Mountains
    #10
    I'm confused. You purchased an Apple gift card for 20% off, took it to an Apple store and got new ones issued. So it sounds like you made sure the cards are legit. The only concern you might have is what is Apple policy regarding gift cards. I know that Best Buy Gift cards don't devalue as time goes by, but other gift cards such as Visa type gift cards do devalue. Go ask Apple specifically what the policy is and you'll know.
     
  11. macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #11
    I'm more confused. Why would you return the retina MBP? Isn't this what you wanted?
     
  12. macrumors 604

    Jessica Lares

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2009
    Location:
    Near Dallas, Texas, USA
    #12
    Even if they tried to charge the money back, they couldn't. The gift card tied with that purchase is already devalued, and spread across two others that have nothing to do with the original.

    OP, instead of worrying, you could have just waited. You had enough details of the guy to be able to report him if the card had been purchased with a stolen credit card. Give it a week or two, and then if they stopped working, then you could file a police report. They aren't going to devalue something three months later. Which credit card company is going to believe you suffered from fraudulent purchases three months later? You get statements every month.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #13
    I will be returning the 15 Inch Retina because I would prefer to save the gift cards and buy the new rev of notebooks coming out in June (supposedly).

    I bought them because it was a great deal and like I said, everything seems to be legitimate and had the balance checked online and in store. I was reissued new card by Apple employees.

    I am a bit paranoid after I read this thread:

    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1169908

    I read Apple's policy and it's a bit vague, the part in red is what concerns me.

    "Neither the issuer nor Apple is responsible for any lost or stolen gift cards or use without your permission. Keep them close; they’re valuable and can be redeemed by whoever finds them."

    Basically I want to ensure that nothing happens to the balance on the cards. With so many scam going on today, it's hard to trust anyone. I don't think they where bought with a stolen credit card but I don't really know for sure. I'm trying to protect myself in the event that they where.

    I wanted to add another layer of security by purchasing the retina and as a result using the full balance of the gift card + 33 dollars, then returning it and having them issue two gift cards with the original balance + the 33 I spent.

    But to be honest, I don't know if that's going to help me or not but I figured I might as well.

    I hope that clarified things a bit, sorry for the confusion.

    ----------

    That's the thing though, I don't know when the cards where purchased and by buying the Retina and then returning it, I am giving myself that week or two to make sure nothing is fishy.

    I also figured that after two weeks or at max a month, I should be clear.

    2000-2500 dollars is lots of money to be spending on a computer for me and I want to make sure I don't lose it. It's not like the Police would return my money, they would simply tell me that they will investigate and then I can hope they find the guy and he hasn't spent the money.

    Like I said I'm probably being OCD, but I just don't know and I don't know how Apple works and handles these things since this is my first major Apple purchase.
     
  14. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    #14
    Treat them like cash.

    And yes, if the gift cards do get charged back, they can follow them back and take the money back - there will be a full traceable paper trail between them - the receipts link the gift cards and the machine, even if you buy 20 machines, there is a paper trail.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #15
    I understand that, you have to put shipping info and all that. I used a credit card for the remainder.

    What I am trying to do is avoid what you just stated.

    I am not trying to scam Apple or anyone, I just want to make sure that I am not being scammed.

    As of now, a Apple store rep reissued new gift cards to me which by the way required manager approval. Apple has now accepted these gift cards as payment and I will be getting my order soon. After that I will return it the day I get it and get new cards.

    Wouldn't you think that Apple has some type of responsibility after that? I mean if they really wanted to avoid scam, why didn't they tell me they can't reissue the cards to me and that I should not buy gift cards from that person.
     
  16. macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    #16
    I think you're missing an important point. As far as Apple knows at this time, the gift cards are legitimate. No one can tell at this time whether the cards were initially bought with a stolen credit card or not. If they were (which may come to light later), then it's after that discovery that the gift cards or merchandise may be invalidated.

    Until that discovery, if it ever happens at all, there is no information to invalidate the gift cards.

    Even if the original purchase turns out to be with a stolen credit card, the credit card issuer may not try to get the money back. Or it may take them months to trace the chain and get the money back.

    I also have to say that the process of reissuing gift cards, buying and returning merchandise, etc. looks an awful lot like money laundering: multiple transactions that try to retain value, made with the intent of hiding or making it difficult to track the origin of funds. These actions make it seem like you have something to hide. That alone may raise a red flag somewhere, leading to a closer investigation of the entire chain of transactions.


    The short answer to your initial question is: You can't be absolutely sure. There is no way to verify that the gift card initial purchase was valid. That initial purchase was made by the person you bought the card from, or someone else farther up the chain. You have no absolute protection.
     
  17. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    #17
    No. If you buy a stolen gift card, thats your responsibility, not Apple's. I'm not going to give advice how to launder gift cards, because something about this thread smells fishy.
     
  18. CSanchez, Jan 18, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013

    thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #18
    This is the best post I've read , basically what I was thinking. I thought about the whole thing looking like I'm trying to hide something I did but the person who originally suggested I do that was the Apple store rep.

    ----------

    You are a idiot if you think I really am trying to launder gift cards.

    I am on camera at the Apple Store with the person who sold me the cards, a Apple Store representative and manager will be shown assisting me, they approved the transfer of funds onto another card.

    I also used my personal credit card to pay the remainder $33 dollars on my order.

    Not to mention it's being shipped to my home, they have my address and it is also linked to my Itunes account which is linked to me and my Iphone 5 which has GPS and other credit cards on file.

    If I was laundering cards I would have just bought what I could with the cards or paid cash to complete a order and then turned around and sold the stuff on Ebay or Craigslist.
     
  19. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2009
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #19
    You're thinking too hard about this. Just buy what you intended to buy with the Apple Gift Card and be done with it.

    Don't forget that people get gift cards for gifts and don't want it to that particular place so they sell them for less than their value. Hell, there's a whole website dedicated to buy/selling gift cards.
     
  20. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #20
    Yeah, I have a tendency to do that.

    Unfortunately there are so many scams out there that I can't help it. I also bought it on Craig's List and not one of those sites that has fraud protection.
     
  21. macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2007
    Location:
    Southampton UK
    #21
    It's normally better to be paranoid before you drop $2k rather than after.

    You've bought the cards now, if something is going to happen, it will happen in time and it will sting you.

    There are no measures you can take now, so you can buy a Mac and enjoy it, or wait for new MBPs. Simple.
     
  22. macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2012
    #22
    Call me an idiot - but is that not exactly what you are trying to do? Ensure that there is a long enough paper trail between the gift cards you got and the ones you have now, to make sure that - if the original ones were stolen - there is no way of finding/cancelling your cards?
     
  23. thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    #23
    What I am trying to do is make sure I'm not a victim of fraud. Your post makes it seem like I am the one trying to commit fraud.

    I did everything I possibly could to ensure it was a legal transaction. I figured I was safe by going to a Apple store and having a manager issue new cards, I explained the situation to both the rep and the manager. The manager actually told me there is no way anyone can use the gift cards without having the PIN which wasn't scratched off on the two original cards and that I should just take those, I insisted and he issued new cards to me.

    It wasn't till after I bought them that I found a thread on this forum where a Apple employee was part of a gift card scam. That's when I got paranoid and made this thread.

    I don't know much about Apple and their business policy but I figured that they would have something set up to stop gift card fraud and that their employees would be trained to look for it. They could have easily told me that I can't/ shouldn't buy gift cards from a individual because of fraud and or checked the purchase receipt for anything suspicious, specially before issuing new cards to me right in front of them. None of that happened.

    Maybe I'm wrong for trying to save money and shouldn't buy gift cards outside of the retailers themselves? But like someone mentioned above, their is a whole industry dedicated to this and I'm sure Apple and others are aware of this.

    Thankfully I think I am safe but only after researching online and reading the posts on this thread did I get a better understanding of the situation.

    ----------

    Oh I was paranoid before I bought them lol but I was more paranoid after buying them when I found the thread I linked in a previous post on this thread.

    Like I said, I think I'm safe but extra assurance never hurts.
     

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