Humboldt, TN Business Hit By Gift Card Scam

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(Humboldt, TN) On the run--gift card bandits. 

They didn't use a gun, but a bogus Visa gift card to get what they wanted.  

The thieves hit a party shop in Humboldt, Tennessee and got away with lots of cash and merchandise despite the card being declined.

"They just come in and was asking for champagne. So I just felt like everything was okay. You know they seemed just like legitimate customers."

Barbara Graves, owns Robert's Package Store in Humboldt, and says the two men didn't buy any liquor December 5th, but they did rack up a huge bill at Robert's Party Shop right next door, "Fourteen hundred thirty eight dollars and sixty eight cents."

That's over eight hundred dollars worth of cigarettes, five hundred twenty dollars in cash and a hundred dollars worth of lottery scratch off tickets.

Problem is, she claims they fraudulently used a Visa  gift card to pull the scam off.

Graves says security camera video shows a man in a white tee shirt presenting the gift card for payment, but it was initially declined.

She came to help the clerk and says the man was very convincing. He talked her into entering what turned out to be a temporary code,

"Just put the code in and it will go through, you'll see. Just go ahead and do it.' and I said, 'well I guess we could try it and see.' And sure enough we did and it showed approved."

Somehow that action took the store's credit card machine "off line."

The glitch didn't show up until the next day and by then it was too late.

Barbara Graves' son Bryan Borders says the theft is hard for the family business to except...especially at Christmas time,

"Anytime you take a loss like that, or you take a hit like that, it's devastating."

Barbara Graves is sorry she didn't follow her first instinct,

"In the back of my mind I still had this gut feeling something was just not right. And I should have went by my gut instinct."

The men cashed in two of the lottery scratch off tickets in Jackson, Tennessee fifteen minutes after they left Humboldt.

Investigators are checking to see if they could be connected to similar scams in Covington and Atoka.