Victim warns 'card draining' scam affecting major retailers left her gift card useless: It 'shocked' me

Suzanne Gdovic said fraudsters drained $200 she put on a Target gift card before the recipient could use it

Police nationwide are urging consumers to be on high alert for a cruel "card draining" scam that is rendering gift card purchases at Target and other retailers worthless.

"I was really shocked by it," Suzanne Gdovic, a victim of the scam, said Monday on "Fox & Friends First." 

Gdovic, a Colorado resident, said she loaded a Target gift card with $200 for a friend whose daughter was having a baby, not knowing the card was already scammed. "I gave it to her. She went to Target to try to use it, and she was at the cash register checking out, and she was told there was a zero balance on the card and was also told that the gift card was assigned to another person's account. There was no money there for her to use for all of the things that she was buying for the new baby," she continued.


A Target shop in 2021

Gdovic said the $200 gift card she purchased from Target couldn't be used because a scammer had access to the card's information. (Reuters)

Gdovic then spoke to a store manager, who clued her in on the scam.

"My particular gift card, the back of it was exposed, so it was very easy for them to access the information off the back of the card. There was a silver lining on there. That protective security code had been scratched off, numbers were taken when they took that gift card out of the store. Then they expertly [put] back on that silver lining," she said.

"I picked it up. They had all the information. I loaded it, and when they have an elaborate scheme [they use] the computer with the coding to figure out when you put the money on the card, and then they stole that money off the card way before she went into the store to use it."

The incident comes as the Better Business Bureau (BBB) revealed 50% more people have reported gift card fraud this year compared to last year.


Woman shopping on her laptop while holding her credit card.

Some scammers are using major online retailers to deceive customers. (

placeholderBarry Duggan, a patrol sergeant from the Pinole Police Department in California, warned of another method thieves are using to steal the card codes for themselves.

"Somebody was taking [gift] cards from the store without paying for them and without loading them up... And what they do is they heat up these envelopes to where they can open them as carefully as they can, remove the card and actually cut the top of the card off," he said, according to a report from Patch, an outlet covering local news.

The scammer keeps the portion of the card that contains the code and puts the bottom portion back into the envelope before re-gluing it shut. 

"Just like that, you have a brand new gift card that you think that you're getting for your person for Christmas," Duggan said.


Here's how you can avoid being a victim of scams this holiday seasonVideo

Scammers are getting creative in other ways, according to "CyberGuy" Kurt Knutsson, including tactics to impersonate friends or loved ones so the victim will think someone they know is urgently in need of money.

Fraudsters are also trying tricks such as selling gift cards at a discounted rate in exchange for money or other gifts, or a phishing scam in which a scammer impersonates a retailer and asks consumers to pay with a gift card, compelling them to hand over their information.

Gdovic said she spoke to a Target guest services representative who pulled up the same information her friend's daughter received when she attempted the purchase, but she was told that not much could be done at the store level.

Target gift card scam victim

Suzanne Gdovic told ‘Fox & Friends First’ she was able to get the $200 charge back from the company after the scam. (Fox & Friends First/Getty Images)

Eventually, Gdovic got her $200 back from Target after what she called "a process and a lot of persistence," and offered some advice for making gift card purchases going forward, telling viewers to photocopy the cards they buy and keep all receipts.

"When you do make that phone call… you need to be able to send them all of this information and be persistent and don't take no for an answer. Also, you can dispute the charge on your credit card, and they're very helpful because they consider this fraud and theft, and they will dispute that charge until you're able to resolve it. But Target, I stuck to it, and I was able to get that gift card replaced by Target gift card services," she said.

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