JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The youth director of a Jacksonville church said he and his wife purchased 17 Walmart gift cards, later learning there was no balance on the cards.
The church leaders said the cards never left their sight and didn't appear to be tampered with, so it's unknown how the money was taken off the cards. They said 16 of the 17 card numbers were stolen, and the church spent about $85 it likely won't get back.
According to the church youth director, who asked to remain anonymous and the church not be named, the gift cards were purchased as thank you gifts to volunteers who helped with vacation bible school.
"They all had a zero balance even though she paid all that money to put on those gift cards," he said.
The youth director said Walmart looked up the activity on the account numbers and found they were used in West Palm Beach.
"It's a real shame to hear that when you purchase something like that, within hours, those numbers could be stolen, even if you don't leave the card out anywhere or use it anywhere," the youth director said. "We paid money out of our pockets for these cards to be able to thank all the volunteers, and unfortunately, they weren't able to use them."
The youth director doesn't expect to get the money back, but he hopes to make people aware of what happened. He said he notified the Attorney General's Office.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said it's nearly impossible to track down a gift card thief. He said the best thing to do is to check the back of the cards and look for signs of tampering.