China police uncover $6m supermarket gift card scam

A screengrab from an animated video on the story shows a man at a computer with yuan notes being transferred onto the gift card Image copyright The Beijing News
Image caption The Beijing News used a digital animation to show how the cards were hacked

Police in China say they've detained a group of former supermarket employees for allegedly stealing 40m yuan ($6m; £4.6m) using fraudulently topped-up gift cards.

The six suspects are accused of hacking into computer systems to add credit to 6,000 cards and using them to fund shopping sprees at supermarkets across Beijing. Police in the city's Fengtai district detail the scam in a post on their Weibo account. "Apple mobile phones and high-end liquor were their first choices," the post reads, adding that one purchase was 50 boxes of the pricey Maotai liquor, each costing 5,000 yuan ($750; £577).

They managed to get away with it for a whole year before a cashier became suspicious that one of the single-use cards had already been used, The Beijing News reports. The shop's management then discovered that thousands of cards had been hacked, and some topped up over and over again, as the paper illustrates in a computer animation. One of the arrested men had previously worked as an IT administrator for a major supermarket.

Two of those detained had apparently used their ill-gotten gains to buy apartments in a swanky part of Beijing, where officers found a stockpile of high-end electrical appliances, "two of every kind", police said.

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