Quebec man stole then sold gift cards on websites, federal government says


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

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

PA

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, of Quebec, was indicted by a grand jury on multiple counts of unauthorized solicitation of access devices and one count of trafficking in counterfeit access devices after prosecutors said referred to as “a years-long investigation into Verret’s online criminal activity”. according to a press 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 on which he advertised gift cards for well-known “restaurant chains, grocery stores, entertainment venues and other retail chains”, many of which have locations in Louisiana, according to court documents obtained by McClatchy News.

As of February 2022, “one of the websites offered over 550,000 gift cards to over 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 began in 2018 when Verret was accused of obtaining large amounts of active account numbers — “through fraudulent methods and theft” — for various branded gift cards.

Verret could access and spend account balances without ever having the physical gift cards using the numbers on mobile apps and online purchases, prosecutors said. Verret was also able to scan account numbers in store records, according to court documents.

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

“For example, the defendant would offer gift cards to a large chain of gourmet supermarkets, with a face value of $25 each, for only $5, and the defendant would offer gift cards to a furniture store, a face value of $1,000, for $250.”

Court documents say Verret also repeatedly shared account numbers with others for their personal use, such as numerous gift card massages and thousands of dollars worth of gift cards for a seafood restaurant. .

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

Cassandre Coyer is a McClatchy national real-time reporter covering the Southeast while based in Washington DC. She is an alumnus of Emerson College in Boston and joined McClatchy in 2022. Previously she has written for The Christian Science Monitor, RVA Mag, The Untitled Magazine and Suite.

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