(KRON) — Police are warning residents about an ongoing gift card scam, the Alameda Police Department (APD) announced Thursday on social media. APD discovered the scam is happening in their own city, the Bay Area and other parts of California.

Almost $6,000 worth of fraudulent gift cards were removed from various retailers across Alameda, the department said. Often times the customers who buy these gift cards don’t realize they’ve fallen victim to a scam.

Here’s how the scam works, according to APD:

  • Scammers steal gift cards in bulk from retailers across the city.
  • They take the cards home and write down the numbers and other essential information from the gift cards by scratching off the hidden number on the back of the gift card.
  • Scammers then repackage the gift cards and put a fake scratch-off label over the already-seen number, making it seem the card was never used.
  • The tampered gift cards are brought back to the store.
  • A customer/victim would legitimately purchase these gift cards — only to realize the scammer had already used that gift card’s funds.

APD posted a video (above) explaining how the scam works and what preventative measures to take and make sure you don’t fall victim to the scam.

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Retail employees were made aware of this scam. Police recommend customers ask a store associate to inspect a gift card they are about to buy or ask for a gift card that is not on display.