Starbucks at Target Scam?

I made sure to check previous post to see if this has happened before but I didn’t see anything like this. Will try to provide as much detail as possible.

Today I was at my local Target that has a Starbucks in its café area. I was in line and noticed the person in front of me had a cart filled with about 12-15 of those cute (but pricey) reusable cups that Starbucks sells. My initial thought was that the person is a collector because I have seen people online who collect all of those cups. But when it was their time to see the cashier, the cashier was automatically confrontational to the person and asked them if they were using multiple gift cards to pay. The person said yes to which the cashier responded and told them that there’s a new store policy which states that if a customer is buying many reusable cups they must use only one debit card or one gift card. The customer was really standoffish and just said thanks and left, pushing the cart to the side and leaving.

The cashier was visibly upset so I asked “Hey what’s up with that person?” And she explained that people have been coming in to buy cups on multiple gift cards (buy 10 cups, each cup paid with a different gift card) and then returning them at Target customer service and requesting cash instead of money on back on the card. She also said that she saw that same person the week before do the same thing, and was accompanied by two other people, totaling in about 500 dollars so far.

I thought that was wild but I’m also confused as to how this works. If they just want cash, and have a gift card why didn’t they just take cash out from their own bank cards at an ATM? Or if these are fake cards, how do they even get processed by the register? Or maybe they are real cards that have been tampered with? I’m very confused and if anyone could shed some light on this that would be great.

The content was posted by inspircatible on 2021-06-29 04:42:08 via reddit

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  1. It’s money laundering. The target cards are stolen, hacked, or otherwise obtained under false pretenses (maybe “you owe the irs money, in order to avoid being arrested you must buy $1000 in target gift cards and fedex them across the country”).

  2. 1) you can’t get money “out” of a gift card unless it has a chip or is a visa card.
    2) the gift cards aren’t tied directly to a name or person like a credit card, which could mean the scammer could send other people back to get a “small” return/refund in cash without raising suspicion at customer service
    3) you can buy/fund gift cards online, so they are also likely filling the gift cards with money from someones compromised account.

    Essentially, it’s suburban money laundering.

  3. I agree it is some form of money laundering. My wife used to work at a store that decided to buy gift cards from people. I have no idea what business sense that made for the store, but it led to a bunch of shady people coming in and regularly selling gift cards from the same stores for the same amounts. We are pretty sure people would do things like go to Home Depot, steal a power tool, return the power tool without a receipt (obviously), and get store credit via gift card. The store my wife worked at just gave those people a way to get cash.

  4. Kinda sounds like they are receiving gifts cards from people who have been scammed, going out to Starbucks to buy the cups, using the gift cards then later going back to return them to the store to be given cash instead. This person was caught trying to buy the cups so his attempt didn’t work.

  5. I use to work at guest services at Target many years ago and this was one of the many scams I had to deal with in addition to recall and fake travel checks.

    The money in the gift card is stolen…what they do is buy a lot of items and return it. They request a gift card and then cash them out at another store location. In California you can cash out a gift card at $9.99. Quite often they will put that amount on many gift cards.

    Second option to cash out is use the gift card and purchase many items to the total amount on the card then then they go to a different location and return the items. Target systems will automatically give a cash refund because it’s a same day return. the system will only provide a gift card refund if its the next day. We would refuse these people the return and tell them to go back to where they purchased it.

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