INDIANAPOLIS - An Indianapolis grocery chain has reported thousands of dollars in losses from a telephone scam that allowed criminals to drain gift cards during a single phone call to store staff.
Police were alerted to the rip-off at Marsh Hometown Market on East 53rd Street and Keystone Avenue, where a 35-year-old employee said she was conned into believing the grocery chain’s corporate office was calling to fix a security problem involving gift cards.
Gift cards remained on display inside the store Monday morning, allowing customers to purchase and activate the cards for any amount. The recipient can then use the pre-paid cards in the same manner that credit cards are used for any purchase.
The store worker told internal store security investigators that a female caller very convincingly stated she was from Marsh headquarters, and then the caller asked her to active 20 gift cards for $500 each.
The worker followed the instructions to the letter.
Police were told that the mystery caller assured the store worker that all 20 credit cards would be deactivated at the end of their phone call.
Instead, the cards were activated as the caller instructed, and all the scammer needed was the various 16-digit credit card numbers to begin making charges on each card.
With a store worker believing she was talking to corporate headquarters, she was likely led to believe that the caller needed those card numbers in order to complete the bogus procedures during that phone call.
Typically, creative criminals use credit card numbers to make online purchases before scams are discovered and the cards are shut down.
Store security workers told police that thousands of dollars in charges were made on the newly activated credit cards as the store worker was still on the phone with the imposter.
The thieves made off with $3,500, police were told, but the store was able to deactivate the other cards before another $5,500 could be stolen.
The real Marsh Supermarket headquarters is keeping tight lipped on whether any other stores have fallen for the scam, or whether store workers have been warned about the rip-off citywide.
Marsh spokeswoman Connie Gardner said, “We do not comment on ongoing investigations.”
Police reported no leads in finding the person behind the costly phone call.