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.
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.