Many York Region residents are happy to receive gift cards, but others weren’t happy to find out their cards had the balance depleted before they started shopping.
York Regional Police Financial Crimes Unit investigators have charged a 34-year-old Richmond Hill man in connection with incidents of gift card fraud.
In October, officers began an investigation after receiving reports from a large retailer in regard to a suspected gift card fraud. Beginning in August, several victims had purchased gift cards for various amounts but discovered that there was no balance remaining on the card when the cards were used. An internal investigation at one of the major retailers revealed that the same male suspect had been caught on video using the funds on the gift cards without having the physical card in his possession. Investigators believe the gift cards had been tampered with prior to being purchased by the victims.
On November 17, a search warrant was executed at a residence in Richmond Hill and a quantity of gift cards and other items were seized. The accused, Haicheng Wang, 34, was arrested and has been charged with fraud under $5,000.
- Police are reminding citizens to follow these tips to avoid being a victim of a gift card fraud: Before purchasing a gift card, check the packaging. Make sure it is intact and secure. If you think a gift card has been tampered with, bring it to a store manager’s attention
- After making the purchase, check that the gift card number you purchased matches the number printed on the receipt
- Always keep both the transaction and activation receipts for all gift card purchases
- Avoid buying gift cards from online resellers. There is no way to check that the gift cards are legitimate and you may not be covered if there’s a problem with the card.
The investigation is ongoing, anyone with information is asked to contact the York Regional Police Financial Crimes Unit-Major Frauds at 1-866-876-5423, ext. 6612, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-tips or text your tip to CRIMES (274637) starting with the word YORK.