PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. - A target employee is facing felony charges after being accused of participating in a gift card fraud scam. It is a con that more store employees are falling for and getting into trouble.
Peachtree City police said it is not just Target clerks, but also Walmart employees. Investigators said the employees are being approached in parking lots, on social media and elsewhere by conmen who are offering a cut of money if they will just do them a favor: load cash onto a prepaid gift card without having to pay for it. But police warn it’s the clerks who are going to jail for it.
Recently, a Peachtree City Target cashier was arrested and charged with a felony; two Walmart employees have also been arrested after falling for the same scam. Now, police are putting out the warning wide to all store clerks throughout metro Atlanta: If someone offers you cash to fraudulently load money on to prepaid visa gift cards, don’t do it.
“They will be the ones that unfortunately get charged and prosecuted for the theft,” said Inv. Tim Pierson, Peachtree City Police Department.
Police said that's what happened to target cashier Tamara Ann Baker. A man allegedly offered her cash to load $29,000 on to prepaid Visa gift cards at her cash register without taking any payments from him. He left with the cards. And when Target found out, she left in a patrol car.
She told police the man claimed to have a device on his cell phone that would prevent the transactions from being recorded; a lie.
“That’s absolutely false. There is no jamming software on any cell phones or anything that would prevent the employer from finding out that this happened,” said Pierson.
Peachtree City police said a man approached Walmart worker Ricky Easterwood in a parking lot and offered him $800 to load $8,000 on to gift cards. But Easterwood wasn’t a cashier. Police said he convinced Zione Zahair Bute, who operated a register, both are now under arrest.
Police are looking for three suspects in that Walmart case. Surveillance cameras captured images of the suspect. Police need the public’s help in identifying them.
In all of the cases, throughout metro Atlanta, the store clerks never got paid. They were the ones arrested. They were the ones who go to jail. And then they never get paid for what they thought was their part of the bargain.
The stores, of course, are capturing all of this on surveillance cameras and are in a good position to crack down on this sort of crime.