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Ontario man purchases $800 worth of gift cards that turn out to be empty


An Ontario man who runs an auto business buys gift cards to show his appreciation to customers and associates, but he found out many of them he has been handing out as presents have no value.

"I have a stack of worthless gift cards here and these are for $800 and these are just the ones that I know of," said Domenic Italiano of Oakville, Ont.

Italiano had been buying the gift cards from a local Petro Canada station, but when it came to his attention that many of the gift cards he purchased had zero balances he went to the gas station to complain.

“The manager of the store is aware of it, Petro Canada is aware of it, but no one seems to be doing anything about it," said Italiano. 

Gift cards are a billion dollar business and while the vast majority of them are given and received without any issues, there are a growing number of cases where gift cards that are legitimately purchased have no value.

Italiano said he tried for about six months to get refunds for the empty gift cards without success before reaching out to CTV News Toronto.

"I understand problems can happen and I understand that issues can arise, but for it to happen so often, I can only imagine how many stories like mine are out there," said Italiano.

Thieves are using different ways to empty gift cards, which is why to avoid being scammed you should inspect gift cards carefully and look for signs of tampering. Try to avoid buying publicly displayed gift cards and purchase ones from behind the counter and always keep your receipts as proof of purchase in case there is a problem.

When CTV News Toronto reached out to Petro Canada, Jessica Depencier a spokesperson for its parent company Suncor, said in a statement "In any circumstance of reported fraud, we complete an investigation. If it is determined that fraud was committed, we will ensure that the customer receives the amount they purchased in full. We ask that anyone who experiences an issue with a gift card please connect with our customer service department so that we can conduct an investigation.”

After CTV News Toronto contacted Petro Canada, Italianao was given a refund of $800 dollars for his empty gift cards and another $100 for his trouble, which was good news for him.

"I suggest they hire a thief so they can find out where the problem is and where the loop holes are," said Italiano.

Another problem with gift cards is that they're also the payment method of choice for thieves, so if you're ever contacted by someone by phone, text or e-mail and asked to make a payment using gift cards chances are it's a scam. Top Stories

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