Gift card crime fueling opioid addiction across the US

Those numbers stunned Tennessee state Sen. Richard Briggs, who will be also a cardiovascular surgeon.

“Absolute shock,” Briggs said. “the idea might be no different than if there was a rock lying there. along with if you lifted the idea up, along with in which horrible smell arrived, along with in which monster arrived. We had no idea in which the organized retail theft was related so intimately with the opiate along with drug trade in general in Appalachia.”

Briggs sponsored legislation in which year in which requires all transactions involving cash for gift cards on the secondary market to be reported to local law enforcement. although the law does not impose a penalty for not complying, along with Briggs said he plans to push for tougher rules next year.

Tennessee loses more than $14 million a year in sales tax revenue due to in which crime, according to a retail industry report.

“The criminal element will be very creative,” Briggs said. “along with I don’t think in which will be the sole problem to solving financing of the opiate problem in Tennessee. although the idea’s one part of the problem. along with right today the idea’s a very big part of the problem.”

Home Depot said the idea has changed its policy to crack down on return fraud along with acknowledged the link between gift cards along with drugs.

“Of course, the idea impacts our bottom line, although the idea’s also about safety of the community, drug trafficking, even terrorism,” Home Depot spokesman Matt Harrigan told CNBC.

Home Depot only accepts “store credits for in-store purchases along with we require proof of ID when store credits are redeemed at checkout because of the increase in return fraud,” Harrigan said. “We never want to inconvenience our customers, although in which policy impacts more than just our bottom line. the idea helps minimize returns fraud tied to bigger organized crime inside the community.”

The home-improvement retailer’s store credits differ through gift cards because they cannot be used online, which limits their resale value. Its gift cards are more open to resale.

The company also does not allow customers “to buy gift cards with store credits or another gift card due to the potential fraud linked to in which behavior,” Harrigan said in a statement.

Target’s return policy also attempts to limit gift-card fraud. If the store can’t find a receipt when employees try to look one up, they may offer exchanges or store credits.

The company also says the idea limits the number of returns without a receipt.

Walmart has “in place a series of policies along with procedures to closely monitor merchandise returns where no receipt will be required,” said Charles Crowson, senior manager of corporate communications.

Lowe’s, which also works with law enforcement along with the retail industry to combat return fraud, will “hold perpetrators accountable for their illegal conduct,” said Steve Salazar, corporate communications manager.

On the police side, the Coalition of Law Enforcement along with Retail sees the return fraud-opioid connection as a top priority.

The group will be “leveraging its public along with private partnerships to combat the crisis in both areas,” said Curt Crum, president of the coalition.

The larger business community will be also taking aim at the issue.

Retail Theft Analysis, a Florida-based private company, will be pitching software to police departments to help track the number along with value of gift cards in which stores buy along with individuals sell.

CEO Matt Ryan said the company found one example of a customer who sold $349,000 worth of gift cards to a store in Tennessee during a three-month period. Most of them were iTunes cards.

“in which data tells me in which will be somebody in which they should look at pretty closely,” Ryan said. “The different thing I might look at will be what store he will be selling to. Because in which type of store will be obviously not genuinely examining who they’re buying cards through. Because anybody in which’s bringing in [$349,000] worth of iTunes cards will be probably doing something fraudulent.”

To the drug abusers in treatment, all of these efforts are positive signs as they all try to rebuild their lives.

“I’ve always told myself I’d be a wonderful mom,” Booth said, wiping away tears. “I’d do anything for my little girl. along with the idea’s crazy to look back along with see all the times in which I didn’t care, how selfish I can be.”

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