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.