Belmont Police Warn of Gift Card Scams

An alert Belmont police detective witnessed the scam happening at the Safeway store on El Camino Real; the suspects were apprehended after fleeing the store.


are alerting the public to a scam involving gift cards that are sold from racks in supermarkets, drug stores and other retailers. 

Here’s how it works:

New gift cards have a barcode, which corresponds to a barcode on the cardboard gift card holder. When a customer buys a gift card, it is activated at check-out when the barcode on the holder is scanned. 

In this scam, the suspect(s) steal gift cards from the rack in the store.  They remove a gift card from its cardboard holder and replace it with the same brand of gift card from a different holder, reseal the holder and put it back on the rack.  This way when the customer goes to activate the gift card, they are actually activating the gift card the suspect has.

On Tuesday, Feb. 21 12:15pm, two suspects who appear to be involved in this type of scam were interrupted at the store on El Camino Real, by an alert Belmont police detective. 

The detective, who was in the store on another matter, saw a man take several gift cards from the gift card rack and then head toward the door. 

As the detective was following the suspect, the suspect dropped the cards and fled to a waiting car, occupied by a second suspect.  The suspects drove off, but were stopped by Belmont police patrol units on Ralston Avenue, approximately a quarter-mile from the store.

Artie Adanandus, 21, of San Pablo, was arrested for evading police and driving on a suspended license, the second suspect, a 20-year-old Richmond man, was interviewed and released.

The Belmont Police Department is encouraging people who are purchasing gift cards to examine the cardboard holder carefully.  If the packaging is damaged, open, or shows indication of having been tampered with, report it to a store employee and choose a different card, which has intact packaging.


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