Thieving Employees Do Brisk Business in Gift Cards
Lower-risk way to steal from the boss
By Jane Yager,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 30, 2009 8:35 AM CST
A banner offers gift cards at the Eddie Bauer store at the Citadel Outlet in the city of Commerce, Calif., on Friday, Dec. 11, 2009.   (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Employee fraud, which accounts for a large and growing chunk of the total $36 billion a year the retail industry loses to theft, is increasingly taking the form of gift cards: easy to walk out of a store with, and easy to redeem without showing ID. With overall employee theft on the rise, "gift card fraud is spiking," the New York Times reports.

The typical thief is a young, part-time employee who rings up fake merchandise returns and loads the money onto a gift card, which fetches much better prices online than stolen goods do on the street. Organized crime sometimes plays a role, with criminals pressuring or paying employees for cards. And however fast gift card fraud is rising, employees remain even more prone to "sweethearting"—not ringing up their friends' or relatives' purchases.