Men try apparent scam at Publix supermarket

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By Chris Sardelli

Deputies are looking for two men who unsuccessfully tried to buy a slew of gift cards at an Indian Land supermarket late last month in a possible scam.

Employees at Publix, 8360 Charlotte Highway, called 911 about 5:30 p.m. March 22, to report that two men tried to buy goods under false pretenses, according to a Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office incident report.

A store manager told deputies at the scene a man tried to use a Walmart Visa debit card to buy three Visa gift cards, knowing there was not enough money on the debit card, the report said.

A deputy watched the store’s surveillance video and noticed the man at one of the registers buying three $100 Visa gift cards. The man’s first transaction using a Walmart Visa debit card was successful.

The man is then seen trying to buy three additional $100 Visa gift cards using the same debit card, though the debit card was declined, the report said. The man then tried to use three more Walmart Visa debit cards, but all three were also declined and he subsequently left the store, the report said.

A few minutes later, another man entered the store and went to a different cash register. The deputy noticed the second man also tried to buy three $100 Visa gift cards using a Walmart Visa debit card, though the manager confronted him and refused the transaction, the report said.

Publix employees followed the man outside and watched him get into the passenger seat of a white car with an Arizona license plate, the report said. An employee noticed the driver was the first man who tried to buy the gift cards.

As the car left the parking lot headed north on Charlotte Highway (U.S. 521), employees saw one of the men throw four of the Walmart Visa debit cards out the car window, the report said.

Deputies collected the cards as evidence and also patrolled the supermarket vicinity, but could not find the car or the men, the report said.

The circumstances surrounding the failed purchases are unknown, though authorities across the country have warned retailers and consumers about the possibility of scammers stealing gift cards or gift card numbers.

The first man is described as black, with a beard, wearing a dark jacket, hat and pants with a green stripe, while the second man is described as black, wearing blue jeans and a dark jacket with a stripe, the report said.

If you have information about either man, contact the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 283-4136.


 Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at (803) 416-8416