Scratch your gift cards: Police warn of bar code scam ahead of holidays

WARREN COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - Thieves in Warren County got a woman to pay for their LaRosa’s Pizza without ever having to come in contact with the victim.

“My purse has got a lot of gift cards in it,” Karen Ryan said. “They got me! I mean, I know now to check even closer -- but they got me.”

Ryan purchased a $25 LaRosa’s gift card from the Deerfield Township Kroger location without realizing that the bar code on the back of the card had been covered up by scammers looking to cash in on her purchase.

Thieves will go into a store and place scanned images from another gift card on the backs of cards that are for sale. When a shopper goes to purchase a gift card without realizing a change has been made, the bar code scanned will send the buyer’s money directly to a card belonging to the crooks.

“I go to pay (at LaRosa’s) and I literally picked up the card and the second that my finger hit (the planted bar code), I was like ‘Oh my gosh. No way,'” Ryan said. “You can’t tell the difference from the back that this had been added to it.”

Police in Blue Ash encountered this scam during the holiday shopping season in 2017 and recommended buyers attempt to scratch the bar code on the back to see if it had been replaced by a cheap copy.

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