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Gift Card-Cloning Thief Scams Best Buy and Apple

Sealtiel Chacon Zepeda, a 22-year-old Beaverton, Oregon, resident, has pleaded guilty to five counts of computer crime after he successfully scammed stores out of $6,000 by cloning gift cards. Zepeda cloned the cards using software he found online, and a magnetic card reader that was able to rewrite the card's information. After stealing blank gift cards from store displays, Zepeda would go home, scan the card and return it. A computer program would notify him when it had been purchased by a shopper, and activated. Zepeda would then rewrite that card's information to another blank card and use it as normal. The 22-year-old ran the racket at Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Apple, Best Buy, Fred Meyer Macy's and Spencer Gifts.

Fred Meyer was the first to catch on to the deal when they started receiving a number of complaints from customers who said their just-purchased gift cards had a balance of zero. They passed the inquiry onto their fraud investigators who noticed that the balance of the gift cards in question was being checked hundreds of times per day. The activity set off alarm bells as most people only check the balance of a store gift card once or twice before maxing it out.

Mr. Zepeda was identified by his computers IP address and store CCTV cameras. He was caught using a cloned card in Fred Meyer and confessed the details of his crime. Authorities found more than 1,000 gift cards in Zepeda's home. Police Detective Michael Hanada said the Beaverton man's technique was one he'd rarely seen before, and hasn't been seen since Zepeda used it in early 2009.

"This is the first time I've ever seen it," Hanada said. "This was really unique."

According to OregonLive, Zepeda was sentenced to 18 months of formal probation for his hustling and a simultaneous drunk driving conviction. If he violates probation, he will serve 13 months in prison.

Source: OregonLive

  • eklipz330
    The 22-year-old ran the racket at Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, Apple, Best Buy, Fred Meyer Macy's and Spencer Gifts.

    lol isn't spencer's a sex toy store?
    Reply
  • aaron92
    No eklipz330...

    On topic though, should of used a proxy dope.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    eklipz330lol isn't spencer's a sex toy store?
    Not really. They just have really erotic gifts.

    Spencers is where I got a bike chain for my wallet. Was sweet.
    Reply
  • blackbeastofaaaaagh
    What kind of an idiot uses his own internet service to commit such big time fraud? A free access point connection would have been much smarter. Most credit card fraud can always be busted using CCTV cameras. Its just that most stores do not feel its worth the effort connecting the video feed to the time-stamp on the transaction and consider it the cost of doing business. Obviously if you piss a store off like this they will then decide to put in the effort.

    Believe it or not, in most states an individual can get a court order (after some considerable paper work, and putting up with much run-around by the store's legal department) to force the store to hand over CCTV tapes and transaction records if he really want to go after the guy who stole his card.
    Reply
  • jomofro39
    IP address? All that planning...and that is what caught him up. Wow.
    Reply
  • @eklipz330:

    No it is not. They sell various random dorky things like gag gifts etc.
    Reply
  • fulle
    You'll notice that most criminals are complete dip-shit morons, because... well... there's just so many legally legit ways to screw people out of their money, and line your pockets with green.
    Reply
  • hellwig
    Interesting scam. I wonder how many of the people who complained about losing the balance on their cards actually got their money back? It must have been frustrating to be one of the first handful of people to complain that your money mysteriously vanished, even though the store had a record of someone using it to make a purchase of hemorrhoid cream and ho-hos.
    Reply
  • tacoslave
    "Mr. Zepeda was identified by his computers IP address"
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    Reply
  • xerroz
    fulleYou'll notice that most criminals are complete dip-shit morons, because... well... there's just so many legally legit ways to screw people out of their money, and line your pockets with green.So many legegally legit ways to screw people out of their money.

    You mean like what Steve jobs has been doing for decades?
    Reply