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Quebec man stole then sold gift cards on websites, feds say

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Gift cards are displayed on a rack in a grocery store Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021, in southeast Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

AP

A Canadian national is accused of selling hundreds of thousands of stolen gift cards worth tens of millions of dollars on numerous websites.

Richard Verret, 40, from Quebec, was indicted by a grand jury on multiple felony charges of unauthorized solicitation of access devices and one count of trafficking counterfeit access devices after what prosecutors say was a “multi-year investigation into Verret’s online criminal activity,” according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Louisiana.

Verret’s defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News on May 17.

Verret is accused of operating several websites where he advertised gift cards for well-known “restaurant chains, grocery stores, entertainment venues and other retail business chains,” many with locations in Louisiana, according to court documents obtained by McClatchy News.

As of February 2022, “one of the websites offered more than 550,000 gift cards to more than 500 different businesses,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said the websites advertised gift cards to hundreds of businesses promising that new gift cards would be added “every week.”

Prosecutors said the scheme started in 2018 when Verret is accused of obtaining large quantities of active account numbers — “by fraudulent methods and thefts” — for various branded gift cards.

Verret could access, and spend, the account balances without ever having the physical gift cards by using the numbers on mobile applications and online purchases, prosecutors said. Verret was also able to scan the account numbers at store registers, court documents state.

Verret is accused of selling the stolen account numbers at steep discounts without the knowledge of the businesses or the customers.

“For instance, the defendant would offer gift cards to a major gourmet supermarket chain, having a face value of $25 each, for just $5, and the defendant would offer gift cards to a furniture store, having a face value of $1,000, for $250.”

Court documents state that Verret also repeatedly shared the account numbers with other individuals for their personal use such as numerous gift card massages and thousands of dollars worth of gift cards to a seafood restaurant.

The total value of all the illegally obtained accounts for sale on the sites was more than $22 million, court documents show.

Cassandre Coyer is a McClatchy National Real-Time Reporter covering the southeast while based in Washington D.C. She’s an alumna of Emerson College in Boston and joined McClatchy in 2022. Previously, she’s written for The Christian Science Monitor, RVA Mag, The Untitled Magazine, and more.




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