Now fraudsters are targeting electronic gift cards

Woolworths has ‘noted a new trend emerging with fraudulent activity linked to gift cards’, saying this is being managed and investigated with its own teams, as well as third parties.
Image: Gallo Images/ IStock

Fraudsters have been shopping at Woolworths using money gifted to others via the retailer’s gift card system.

Sharon Lewis spent R1,000 on a gift card at Woolworths’ KwaZulu-Natal flagship store in Gateway shopping centre in August, but when her daughter tried to redeem the money on that card at the Bluff branch earlier this month, she was told the balance on the card was zero.

“On contacting the Gateway branch, I was told that the transactions were done at the Table Bay branch in Cape Town,” Lewis told TimesLIVE.

“Camera footage shows three men using more than one card to make purchases.

“But we have the gift card in our possession, so how did they have a valid gift card linked to the one I bought?

“Woolworths understands that something is wrong, but they are not taking responsibility, investigating further or refunding me,” she said.

Lewis claims a woman in the store’s customer services department told her “a lot of fraud is happening with these gift cards”.

“Woolworths needs to protect customers who will be buying their gift cards now for the festive season,” she said.

A Woolworths spokesperson said the company had “noted a new trend emerging with fraudulent activity linked to gift cards” which was being “managed” and investigated with its own teams as well as “third parties”.

“But it appears to be fairly insignificant in relation to the overall gift card business,” she said.

“When we experience an incident of gift card fraud, our normal procedure is to escalate the fraud report to head office and reimburse our customer.

“Unfortunately, in Sharon Lewis’ case, due process wasn’t followed so we have reached out to her to apologise and arrange reimbursement.

“We have also opened an internal investigation into why due process wasn’t followed when Sharon reported the fraud in-store.”

  • Pre-paid gift cards and vouchers must, by law – the Consumer Protection Act – be valid for at least three years. Despite that, several online retailers, beauty spas and tattoo parlours are still imposing validity periods of a year or even six months. Something to watch out for when buying gift cards as Christmas gifts.





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