Ex-Cop Exposes Gift Card Tampering At Shoppers Drug Mart & Apparently It Happens Often

She's found at least five tampered gift cards so far!

Nichelle Laus with a tampered gift card.

Nichelle Laus with a tampered gift card.

A gift card can be an easy gift when you're shopping for the holidays, but before you checkout, you may want to think twice.

Former Peel Regional Police and York Regional Police officer Nichelle Laus exposed a gift card scam she discovered at Shoppers Drug Market, and many people said they've also experienced it.

In an Instagram reel, Laus, who's now a Tiktoker and business owner of 416 Tactical, exposed how scammers are applying fake barcodes to gift cards to trick people out of their money.

"I almost got scammed again. Guys, I want you to pay particular attention, especially while holiday shopping to be very careful with gift cards," said Laus in an Instagram reel.

"Alright, so what happened was I came up I was actually buying a gift card, a $100 gift card for PlayStation, so I picked up the first one, and I just felt the back, and if you can see, there's a fake barcode on that."

Laus explained that scammers take empty gift cards home from the store and put their own barcodes over top, leaving the barcode slightly raised, which you can feel when you run your finger along it.

In her video, Laus takes the gift card up to the cash register at an Etobicoke Shoppers Drug Mart and shows that when scanned, the PlayStation gift card comes up as an LCBO gift card.

"So, to reiterate what happened, I grabbed a PlayStation card, but it actually had an LCBO barcode on it. So what the scammer has at home somewhere is that LCBO card, and that card would have got loaded with a $100 had I paid for this card."

Laus told Narcity that you can actually peel the fake barcode off of the card to reveal the card's actual code.

She says she discovered this scam in Mississauga three weeks ago, and since then, she says she's run into at least five fake gift cards at various stores like Canadian Tire.

She says a cashier pointed the scam out to her at a Mississauga Shoppers Drug Mart while she was buying a gift card for a birthday gift.

"When I got to the cash, the girl did her due diligence and was amazing."

Laus said the cashier checked the gift card before ringing it through and explained that they were aware of the scam happening.

Commenters on the video shared Laus's experience and said they've also experienced the gift card scam.

"This legit happened to me recently!! Still waiting for shoppers drug mart to rectify it," one person commented.

"This happened to me last year! Bought about 10 cards. Realized the numbers didn’t line up to the receipt. Took it back to the store. Long process but I got the correct gift cards months later. I also go directly to where I’m buying now. LCBO, Home Sense etc," another person commented.

Peel Regional Police told Narcity that they are not aware of this particular scam, but that they've seen variations of gift card issues.

"The merchant should be vigilant with the shelved product and the customer should always check their receipt prior to leaving the store," said a spokesperson for Peel Regional Police.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Brooke Houghton
Brooke Houghton is a contributing writer for Narcity Media based in Toronto, Ontario.