Stearns County Sheriff’s Office warns of gift card scam

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ST. CLOUD – The Stearns County Sheriff’s Office warns of a gift card scam in St. Cloud.

Each year, the department selects a family or two to give a little extra financial help during the holidays. This year, two families were chosen and received Walmart gift cards, but the sheriff’s office said when the families went to use them, they discovered most of the money had already been spent. Authorities investigated and found that the purchases were made before the department distributed the gift cards.

The sheriff’s office says someone walked into a Walmart store, took a bunch of gift cards and peeled off the backing to get the codes. Once he had the codes, he entered them into the Walmart payment app, replaced the coating on the back of the cards, and waited for someone else to purchase and activate them.

Authorities were able to determine where the card had been used, identify a suspect using video and photos, and execute a search warrant at his home in Saint-Cloud. Inside, authorities discovered most of the items purchased with the gift card money as well as tools used to manipulate the gift cards and evidence of a larger scheme.

The case was forwarded to the Stearns County District Attorney’s Office for charges. The sheriff’s office also said it was working to ensure the money spent by the suspect returned to the families.

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