Oregon Gift Card Cloner Pleads Guilty

An Oregon man pleaded guilty earlier this month to cloning gift cards for Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Apple, Best Buy, Macy's, Kroger and Spencer Gifts. The a crime was solved when Kroger fraud investigators noticed card balances being checked online hundreds of times a day.

Sealtiel Chacon Zepeda started his attacks by stealing blank gift cards from one of the chains--using the unprotected carousels that display the cards--and then scanning them at home, according to this story in Oregon Live. "He would then return some of the scanned cards to the store and wait for a computer program to alert him when the cards were activated and loaded with money. Using a magnetic card writer, Zepeda then rewrote one of the leftover stolen gift card's magnetic strip with the activated card's information, thus creating a cloned card." The crime here isn't especially clever, but it does nicely refute the belief that crooks won't bother going through these efforts to clone gift cards.