Parishioners allege fraud after buying Walmart gift cards
As Father’s Day approaches, 12 women are still waiting to be reimbursed for the Mother’s Day gift cards they never got a chance to use. A local pastor’s wife is alleging fraud after she says she bought 12 Walmart gift cards for parishioners that turned out to have a zero balance.
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.--Monday night, she still didn’t have her money back.
“It was Mother’s Day, and I was very happy, because I’m a mom to have received from my mom a gift card,” said Kemyetta Hardy, who received one of the gift cards from her mother.
Her mother and pastor’s wife, Jacqueline Anderson, had bought $20 and $10 Walmart gift cards for 12 of her parishioners for Mother’s Day.
The total was $170.
“One of the ladies called me and said sister Anderson, there’s nothing on the gift card, and I said what do you mean there’s nothing on the gift card? I know there’s something on the gift card,” said Anderson.
Four ladies and fellow parishioners called Walmart to check and were all told, the balance was zero.
“So I’m like well this is not going to work, so we call Grape Road, and they said they would look into it,” said Anderson.
Jacqueline says Walmart discovered that the gift cards had been spent in Fort Wayne just three hours after she had purchased them in Mishawaka, which she says makes no sense.
“I placed them in this checkbook, so I keep them separated, and they stayed with me the whole time,” said Anderson, showing off the checkbook.
Jacqueline filed a police report and was told by Walmart they would get back to her.
She says three weeks later, she’s still waiting.
“When she told me about everybody was turning them in, I felt bad for her, because she always does things for us, always,” said one of the gift card recipients, Louella Taylor.
“Mothers on Mother’s Day to have a card with nothing. Some of us that was the only thing some people got and then to have nothing and then to think that Walmart, as much business as we give them, wouldn’t make right on it,” said Hardy.
Walmart refused to comment on the specific case, but they sent ABC 57 the following statement:
“We know that being able to purchase gift cards securely is important to our customers. We want them to know that we take steps to mitigate fraud, and we have protections in place to help prevent this type of activity.”
“For someone, like I said, to do that to our church, it bothers me. It’s like sticking a knife in my heart,” said another parishioner who received a gift card, Donna Bethany.
“It’s not that I can’t replace the gift cards, but they should replace the gift cards. It was their store, it happened at their store, and they need to make it good,” said Anderson.
The St. Joseph County’s Sheriff Department shared the following tips for safely shopping for gift cards:
- Buy a gift card from a reputable seller instead of a secondary sale site.
- Do not share the gift card information over the phone.
- Pay attention as the salesperson processes and activates the card.
- Negotiate the card as soon as you can after purchased.
- If you decide to resell a gift card, do so through a recognized and reputable reselling service, not a private individual you don’t know.