A user on TikTok has gone viral after claiming that her grandmother was gifted $200 worth of unusable Visa gift cards that the TikToker’s uncle had purchased from Walgreens.
In a video with over 1.5 million views, TikTok user Alexis (@lolathemerle) shows her grandmother, then the two gift cards in question, both of which have had their numbers removed.
“When my 84-year-old grandma is gifted $200 visa gift cards,” she writes in the text overlaying the video. Alexis then reveals that the card shave had their numbers scratched off. She adds, “When she realizes Walgreens sold her son frauded gift cards.”
As Alexis explains in a follow-up video, this is a relatively common scam.
How it works is simple: someone will surreptitiously open the package, then take a picture of the card number. They will then remove the card number to make it unusable.
This usually happens in the store, as gift cards are frequently not allowed to be returned.
As the cards are activated at checkout, they will monitor the card number and wait until it has been activated. From there, they are free to use the card—while the true recipient of the card is unable to do so.
@lolathemerle Replying to @wooben_ ♬ original sound – LolaAndAlexis
This has been documented on TikTok before. In January, a user went viral after claiming they tried to redeem a $175 Airbnb gift card, only to find that someone else had already redeemed it.
In many cases, people who receive gift cards will find difficulty resolving the issue, as they may not have been given a receipt by the gift giver.
“I worked at walgreens and yes unfortunately we’re not allowed to take gift cards back.. Hence why we say ‘no refunds or returns,’” explained a commenter under Alexis’ video. “I’d say definitely call the card company themselves & see what they can do.. they’re probably switching them at the store bc again there’s no way to return a gift card.”
“I work at walgreens and cashiers are supposed to check every visa cards numbers to match the packaging,” noted a second.
Other commenters spoke about how common this issue is.
“I think it a Visa thing, happens at a lot of stores,” detailed a commenter. “And most people don’t realize until like a year later when they remember they have a card.”
“My mom called customer service for hers. it just happened like a week ago,” added another. “It takes a WHILE but they sent her a new card and it worked.”
“Always get digital,” shared a third. “these cards always getting numbers stolen.”
The Daily Dot reached out to Walgreens via email and Alexis via Instagram direct message.
Update 12:12pm CT, Apr. 28, 2023: In an Instagram direct message exchange with the Daily Dot, Alexis shared the following: “My grandma who is 84 years old, walked into Walgreens. Walgreens claimed there was nothing they could do and offered no help. So I called Walgreens, where they claimed it was a Visa problem. Then I called Visa, who claimed it was a Walgreens problem. The $200 remains not refunded from either parties with no one taking blame.”