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NORTH KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A North Kansas City business says it was the victim of a gift card scam.

Management at Sail Away Wine fear several other local businesses unknowingly could fall for it too or be forced to reject fraudulent gift certificates.

Jay Hightower, the wine bar’s general manager, first learned of the issue when a group of customers attempted to redeem a gift certificate won at a charity auction.

“When they came and checked out they had a hundred dollar gift certificate when the employee was checking it out they kind of noticed some discrepancies with it,” Hightower said.

Sail Away says it frequently donates gift certificates that can be purchased and printed in their store to charities for auction, so the wine bar accepted it, but later confirmed suspicions it was a fake.

“Some of these pictures that they had taken for this certificate were old files from our website that hadn’t been on our website for about a year and a half,” Hightower said.

They were out the $100, but it doesn’t end there. Sail Away, thinks the customers and that charity were also victims of a scam.

“Once we got that we started digging around on hey if this person can make fake gift certificates where else can fake certificates come from?” Hightower wondered.
He found not only their company’s name on gift certificates for sale on a website, but many of their North Kansas City neighbors.

FOX4 checked with some area businesses on gift card websites who also said they do not partner with third party websites and had no idea their gift certificates were being sold on there.

Sail Away says to avoid scams like these certificates are only available for purchase directly from them in their store. If you are thinking of buying gift cards or certificates online through a third party Hightower offers this advice.

“Shopping for certificates this holiday season do your due diligence,” he said.

So what is due dilligence? The Federal Trade Commission says stick to stores or websites you know.

If you are buying a physical card, make sure it hasn’t been tampered with and the PIN number isn’t visible.

If you have questions, call the business where the certificate will be used before you purchase any gift card or certificate.

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