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Woman loses thousands trying to sell her unwanted Home Depot gift card online

Posted: 11:00 AM, Aug 29, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-21 22:46:37Z

A Las Vegas woman tried making some extra cash by selling a Home Depot gift card she won in a sweepstakes. But instead, the deal ended up costing her thousands!

"I won $5,000 in the form of gift cards," says Crystal Wilson.

It was a happy day for Wilson. She accepted her winnings from a Home Depot sweepstakes back in June.

"And they had a party for me, food and cake, and I invited my family," Wilson says. 

But she admits, she doesn't do a whole lot of shopping at home improvement stores.

"Because I rent, I didn't really need the money," Wilson says. 

So she decided to sell one of her gift cards worth $2,000. She posted the card for sale on Craigslist, and got a call from an interested buyer the very same day.

The buyer offered Wilson $1,800 and said he would meet her at Home Depot. But he had one concern.

"He wanted to make sure the gift card had the actual amount that I had advertised," says Crystal.

So she made a 3-way call to Home Depot, entering the card number and security code on the back, so he could hear the balance. Once he was convinced Wilson wasn't trying to scam him, the buyer agreed to meet her in just 15 minutes. But 30 minutes later, Wilson was still waiting.

"So I asked the customer service manager to check the balance of the card for me, just in case," she says.

That's when she learned it was all gone! Someone had used the card just 20 minutes earlier.

"The customer service manager was able to print the receipt from the store where it was used, and it was used in San Jose, California," Wilson says.

So how was it done? It turns out it's rather easy.

"This stuff is available online for free," says I.T. Security Expert Curt Miller with Anexeon.

He shows us how it works. He simply dials seven digits. Then using a free program, he clicks one button.

"And it figures it out and comes back and tells me, exactly what it is," says Miller.

It only took a moment to decode the sound, and confirm he dialed the numbers one through seven. Then all the bad guy has to do, is duplicate your card.

"The card can be a blank piece of plastic, as long as it has the magnetic strip... just enter the data on the magnetic stripe," says Miller.

And since many stores offer self checkout, including Home Depot, it's easy to avoid customer service at the register. 

To add insult to injury, Wilson still has to pay the taxes on her winnings. So now she's taking time to warn others selling anything online.

"Try to sell it to somebody you know or a friend of a friend. If someone refuses to meet, that should be a red flag," Wilson says.

Contact 13 reached out to the Home Depot, which told us customers should only purchase Home Depot gift cards from authorized sellers. The company discourages customers from selling gift cards on the secondary market. And Home Depot says never share the gift card pin with a stranger.