Man caught up in gift card scam

DENVER -- If you are planning to give a gift card this holiday season, the FOX 31 Problem Solvers have a warning for you.

A local man was just caught up in a scam. Just two days after Josh Layton bought a gift card from the Highlands Ranch Walmart he found out it was completely drained.

“I was shocked. Absolutely shocked,” Layton said.

Layton thought he was giving his mom the perfect Christmas gift.

“It’s so hard to buy for moms,” Layton said.

But it’s a gift she’ll never get. Back in November, he bought her a Walmart gift card for $50, from the store off of Business Center Drive. A few weeks later he headed out to redeem a few other gift cards and decided to check all the balances.

“I realized this gift card had been used at three different times at two different Walmarts in Colorado Springs. The card had been almost completely depleted,” Layton said.

He said at the time he purchased the card, the pin number and last four digits were covered up by the security strip and it all looked legit. But now the card history showed the balance was only 47 cents.

“I bought the gift card on November 22 and it never left my wallet,” Layton said.

So how did criminals get his card info? The Problem Solvers took these questions to Denver Cyber Security Expert, Ray Hutchins.

“One method is to take the card, and then go in the parking lot, use a strip reader, pull off the information on that and then come back into the store and replace the card. Then they wait until someone activates it and then boom, take the money out of the account,” Hutchins said.

Layton contacted Walmart but never got his money back.

“I spent exactly 77 minutes on the phone, between 11 different phone calls to three different Walmarts,” Layton said.

He now plans to dispute the charge with his credit card company.

“When you’re purchasing gift cards know that there is a caution. Myself, now I’m hesitant to do that anymore,” Layton said.

The cyber expert recommends that when purchasing a gift card, pull from the middle of the pack because he said it’s less likely to be tampered with. He also said to get a receipt when buying the card so you have proof of the purchase. Include that receipt if you give the card as a gift. Also, activate the card quickly and use it quickly and keep a close eye on the balance.

FOX 31 reached out to Walmart on Tuesday morning but have not heard back.