A TikTok user and former restaurateur says restaurants should be careful with prepaid gift cards, and warns that some restaurants may still be vulnerable to a scam servers in the 2000s used to get extra money at the expense of the restaurant.
On Aug. 23, @gangsta_gramps shared the video, which has since been viewed nearly 7,000 times. In it, he explains he used to run a restaurant in the 2000s. “When gift cards started to be a thing, Visa gift cards, American Express gift card, MasterCard, prepaid cards… POS systems weren’t as advanced as they are today,” he says.
Here’s how the scam allegedly worked: Servers would have friends buy prepaid gift cards, usually around $100. They’d then dine at the restaurant, using up almost all the balance of the card on their meal.
When it came time to tip, they’d add a generous amount, say $50, which would be more than the card’s actual balance. Since the restaurant’s system didn’t immediately verify the tip with the card issuer, this went unnoticed for a bit. By the time the restaurant realized they were short, they’d already paid the server the inflated tip.
Now, while this sounds like a story from a bygone era, @gangsta_gramps warns that some restaurants today could still fall for it.
In the comment section of the video, users shared their own experiences with shady practices they’ve encountered while working in the food service industry.
“I worked as a server and every dollar that a customer left you on the credit card they took 25 cents,” one commenter alleged.
“Bennigans used to have paper gift cards. We used to just take them from the office and use them,” a second commenter added.
“That was definitely a thing back in 2007-2008 when I was a server,” a third commenter wrote.
This isn’t the only viral scam story related to prepaid gift cards. Recently, a Target customer was embarrassed to learn the gift card she gave to a friend had been tampered with. And an Instacart customer warned others about what she claims is a new form of fraud.
The Daily Dot has reached out to @gangsta_gramps via his email for comment.