Buying retailer gift cards is a common practice in the world of organized retail crime: This plastic money can easily be re-sold at a steep discount through Internet auction sites, at flea markets and other places.
In the case of the Richmond Girls, our team had been alerted by investigators at Target that they had seen an increase in recent months of credit card chargebacks linked to suspected fraudulent credit card transactions. Additionally, they had video images of two suspects. Shortly after they alerted us, one of their Assets Protection team members happened to recognize one of these suspects on video surveillance cameras attempting to buy a large number of gift cards. The suspect was detained by store security personnel, and the police were called. Upon arriving, police found the second suspect waiting in the car.
While building the case against the two female suspects, two more women were apprehended in a similar manner at another mass-market retailer. And in the course of the expanding investigation we discovered a storage facility rented by one of the suspects. Inside, we found more than $80,000 in merchandise, including a computer.