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Thieves distract cashiers for free gift cards

Hillsborough County

TAMPA (WFLA) – The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a crime that has been making the rounds in Florida for nearly a year.

According to the sheriff’s office, investigators began to see a rise in fraudulent scam occurring in local businesses in November 2018.     

Named, the “Cash Tender Scam”, one suspect distracts the cashier and the other suspect presses the cash tender button on the register.

“Right before they pay for that gift card, they distract the clerk in some way they say ‘Oh, I forgot one item, could you go grab me x, y, z,'” says Hillsborough County Sheriff Spokesperson Amanda Granit.

Pressing the tender button causes the transaction to fraudulently complete. Utilizing this tactic, suspects leave with merchandise or gift cards, which would have hundreds of dollars. These gift cards could immediately be used or in some cases returned to other businesses for cash.

According to the HCSO, in April 2019 through August 2019, detectives with HCSO worked with the

  • Pasco County Sheriff’s Office
  • Tampa Police Department
  • Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
  • FBI
  • Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office
  • Plant City Police Department
  • Clearwater Police Department
  • Highland County Sheriff’s Office
  • Manatee County Sheriff’s Office
  • Lakeland Police Department
  • Seminole County Sheriff’s Office
  • Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office
  • Tallahassee Police Department
  • Osceola County Sheriff’s Office
  • Brevard County Sheriff’s Office
  • Port St. Lucie Police Department
  • Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state of Alabama to obtain their Cash Tender cases.

The HCSO says there have been 386 CashTender cases received by businesses and jurisdictions, which were committed in Florida and Alabama. The approximate total loss to Walgreens, Lowes, Walmart, and Home Depot was $474,684.40.  

 The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office had 29 cash tender cases, which 26 have resulted in an arrest. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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