"If they get the codes off the card and then put them back and then someone purchases that card, then the person who has the codes can get the money," said Macon County State's Attorney, Jay Scott.
We're not talking about credit cards, or debit cards. We're talking about gift cards.
"Scams are changing constantly," said Scott.
The scam is fairly new. Thieves go into a store, find the gift card section, copy the card numbers, and scratching off the pin. Then, they repeatedly call the 1-800 number on the card to see if it's been purchased and activated. If so, the thief immediately begins shopping with it online.
"It does take place," said Lt. Antonio Brown of the Macon County Sheriff's Office.
Your first line of defense is making sure the card has not been tampered with. All gift cards have a pin or activation code that should be covered. If you see a gift card with the code already scratched off, report it to the store manager.
"We've seen people lose tens and tens of thousands of dollars to different scams and it's heartbreaking when you see it," said Scott.
Another piece of advice is it's better to purchase gift cards directly from the store, not a general retailer or online.