AARP Phoenix branch office defrauded in gift card scam

$400 in Visa gift cards had zero balances on them.
$400 in Visa gift cards that were used in a Phoenix AARP sweepstake reportedly had zero balances on them.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 4:01 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - Brenda Holt is with AARP here in Phoenix, an organization generally geared toward senior citizens.

“We provide information to that population things like Social Security, Medicare, driver’s safety,” Holt said. To get the organization’s name out, she and her team frequently hold public events around the Valley to attract new members by playing games that offer prizes. Holt said, “We encourage them and say hey if you want to win this gift card, or whatever else we are offering at the sweepstakes, they can scan the QR code.”

Scanning the code allows the person to enter AARP’s sweepstakes, where $100 Visa gift cards are handed out to winners. Holt said that recently when one of those winners tried to spend his $100 Visa gift card, he discovered a big problem. “I got some embarrassing news,” she said. “The card had a zero balance on it. We were very embarrassed because that has never happened before.”

She investigated three other $100 Visa gift cards and discovered that they, too, had zero balances. Now out $400, Brenda contacted Visa as well as Fry’s, where she purchased the cards. She said neither company was able to help her, so she contacted On Your Side. “I want my $400 back because it belongs to AARP,” Holt said. On Your Side contacted Fry’s corporate offices, and after looking into the issue, they agreed to refund Holt her money.

She said she’s been trying for months to get her money back, and it took On Your Side to make it happen. “If I have any other issues, you might be hearing from me again. I hope I don’t but if I do, you’ll be hearing from me again,” Holt said. On Your Side would like to state that Fry’s is not to blame here. There is a growing trend where some fraudsters are able to scrape money from gift cards that have been pre-loaded, so be careful.