Local woman loses money in new twist on gift card scam

Local woman loses money in new twist on gift card scam »Play Video

VANCOUVER, Wash. - She was looking for a bargain,

"I love good deals.I love coupons," said Diane, who lives near Vancouver. 

She said does not want to identify herself because the case is under investigation by police. We are calling her "Diane" for this story.

Diane said she saw ads posted by a local man for IKEA cards on an app and web site called Offer Up. The cards were return cards for store credit, given to customers at IKEA who are returning items.

"I thought, 'He doesn't want to buy anything, he just wants to get cash,'" Diane said. "I didn't think anything of it."

She said the seller claimed the two cards had a balance of about $360, and he was selling them to her for $260.

"I thought this was, like, I don't know, a win-win," Diane said.

She said she wanted to confirm the cards were legitimate, so she met the seller at the IKEA near the airport in Northeast Portland and asked the clerk to verify the balance.

"The clerk checked both cards, and they did have the sum he told me," said Diane. "So, he handed me the cards and I handed him the cash, the $260 cash."

Diane said she and her husband are buying a house, and they thought the IKEA cards would help them in their new home.

But Diane said she saw the same Offer Up seller posting IKEA return card ads again in very similar amounts and she became suspicious.  She said she called an IKEA customer representative to double check her balance on the two cards she purchased.

"He's, like, 'I'm sorry, you have zero balance for both cards,'" Diane said. "I'm, like, 'What? What just happened? Zero balance for both cards?' It took me a while to process everything. It was a shocker."

Diane said she believes the cards were emptied soon after she bought them.

She said the seller no longer answered his phone.

"It's disgusting what people can do," Diane said.

The Problem Solvers contacted IKEA, and learned that people do not need the actual return card to get access to return-card money. They can use just the return card number, said IKEA spokesperson April Minister.

So, as Diane learned, you could buy an IKEA return card and have it in your possession, but someone else could drain your card.

"I know there will be people who think, 'How could you not know and go for a deal like this?'"  Diane said. "But there's people like me that had no idea. I thought if I went to the store and saw the balance myself, why not?"

Minister said you should never purchase IKEA return cards. She also said you should never buy IKEA gift cards from anywhere but IKEA itself.

Portland Police agreed, saying you should never buy gift cards from second-hand hand dealers.