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Employees at Metcalfe's spotted signs of gift card fraud and stepped in to help

Gift Cards
Posted at 4:51 AM, Apr 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-28 13:38:47-04

WAUWATOSA — Tammy Marsh says her father walked into Metcalfe's Market in Wauwatosa with $10,000 cash in a plastic bag and he was looking to buy gift cards.

Even though he went straight to the gift card stand and took them to the register, Marsh says he didn't get any further than that.

"They said, 'We're not going to sell you these cards, Sir. This is a scam.' They tried to tell him twice that this was a scam," she said.

Marsh says someone posing as the Executive Director with the Federal Trade Commission had her dad, who suffers from memory problems, in a panic.

"I don't know what story they gave him but it was something like they gave him a case because they were saying that somebody scammed him."

"They were the scammers telling him that he was being scammed," Marsh said.

Three managers and a cashier at the grocery store knew something wasn't right.

"We noticed him walking through the store. He seemed very agitated. He was on the phone and it seemed like somebody was arguing with him," said Amanda Metcalfe, Director of Employee Development.

Metcalfe says employees are trained to spot signs of gift card fraud.

"When anybody does try to purchase a large amount of gift cards we do require an ID."

Also, it's store policy to limit the gift card purchase to $500 per shopper.

Marsh says her dad came back to Metcalfe's and tried to buy gift cards again, but Metcalfe's refused the sale for the second time. He did end up going to other places to get gift cards and he's out $8,000.

"He didn't remember coming to Metcalfe's. He didn't remember pulling out $10,000," said Marsh.

A new survey from AARP found 73 million adults in the U.S. have experienced some form of gift card fraud and seniors end up losing the most money.

"Anytime anyone tells you that a gift card is a legitimate tender, for anything, any kind of a bill or past due obligation, they are lying to you," said Kathy Stokes, Director of Fraud Prevention Programs with the AARP.

Stokes applauds retailers like Metcalfe's training employees on how to spot signs of gift card fraud but says more needs to be done.

"We need Congress to act. We asked in our survey, 'Do you think that Congress should do more to protect consumers from fraud? Almost 90% of the people said yeah and 61% of them said extremely yes," Stokes added.

Metcalfe's didn't just stop a sale. The store then contacted the senior center where Marsh's dad lives who then contacted her.

"If it wasn't for the wonderful staff at Metcalfe's, then I wouldn't have known about this for a couple of months, and my dad probably would have said, 'I have no money.'" Marsh said.

Marsh says her dad had cut his hand and was bleeding. Workers at Metcalfe's even got him a bandage.

"I want to thank Steve, Jim, Katrina, and Louis. You are all angels from above thank you so much."

"We're proud of them for noticing. Proud of them for realizing that something was off and taking action," said Metcalfe.

Marsh is in the process of filing a police report and trying to track down her dad's missing money.

She called the numbers on her dad's caller ID, but that didn't help.

"He said, 'I can't talk to you about your father's case.' I said, 'I'm the power of attorney for finances, don't tell me you cannot talk to me about my father's case.'"

"I said, 'Are you scamming my father? I said it several times and he goes, 'No! I know who you are then said my name, my address, and my phone number. That was very upsetting to me," said Marsh.

The Federal Trade Commission interestingly enough is the agency where you can report this type of fraud.

If someone asks you to pay them with gift cards, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

You can also call the Fraud Watch Network Helpline with the AARP at 877-908-3360