BOYD COUNTY, Ky (WSAZ) -- After just two weeks, Ashland's Pawn Shop Express is taking down their sign and discontinuing the now popular pawn shop practice of buying gift cards.
The Boyd County Sheriff said during another drug raid he was tipped off to a gang of thieves, stealing mass quantities of merchandise from at least two local big box stores.
Then he said they would return the stolen stuff for gift cards and sell the gift cards to at least two local pawn shops.
The sheriff said there were hundreds of illegal transactions, in just a few days.
Pawn shops profit by buying the gift cards for 50 cents on the dollar then selling the cards to a national on line buyer.
It's illegal for a shop to knowingly buy stolen merchandise, but the sheriff said there's got to be some red flags when that gift card seller is questionable.
The sheriff said the two pawn shops involved are on notice.
Tri-State Pawn and Jewelry now has a 'no fly' list.
They said anyone trying to sell multiple gift cards will be refused and reported.
At Pawn Shop Express, they explained how they were getting ripped of by the fraudulent gift card gang.
"Using the numbers and buying stuff on-line," Patti Caines from Pawn Shop Express said. "Then the cards would be worthless."
The sheriff said the next step in a very active investigation is to arrest the retail thieves committing this gift card crime.
Pawn shops in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and nationwide are now buying gift cards.
Investigators said organized retail theft is costing companies and consumers worldwide from 30 to 40 billion dollars a year.
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