Florida police warn shoppers to check gift cards prior to purchase

(Boca Raton Police Dept.)

Authorities in Florida are warning holiday shoppers about scammers targeting gift cards.

Boca Raton police say shoppers should check gift cards before bringing them to the registers, due to the possibility of tampering by scammers.

Investigators said thieves are printing out their own barcodes and placing them over the actual gift card barcode at local retailers.

"When the card is activated, the money is added to the scammer's card instead of the card being purchased," police said.

Related: Beware of holiday scams, FBI warns

The scam isn't new, but police issued the warning after a retail employee discovered fraudulent barcode stickers that were placed on gift cards at a Florida store.

Police said shoppers should closely examine the back of the gift card before making the purchase in order to look for signs of tampering, such as barcode stickers.

"Make sure the gift card’s barcode number, visible through the window on the back of the gift card’s packaging, matches the number on the packaging itself," they cautioned.

Police also urged shoppers to pick a gift card from the middle or back of the rack, since criminals will likely go for the front cards because they can commit the crime more quickly.

Related: 'Car wrap scam': Officials warn college students about swindlers offering money to wrap car in advertising