According to prosecutors, a Chinese woman living in Plano was part of an organized crime circle, encouraging older victims to buy $ 4 million in gift cards and redeem them for criminals. ..
28-year-old Lin Qiu was arrested on charges of being involved in organized crime, theft, money laundering, and the exploitation of the elderly. She holds a $ 500,000 bond.
According to court documents, Qiu personally used 2,000 Wal-Mart shopping and gift cards this summer. Investigators tracked her drive from store to store at Mercedes-Benz in 2016.
Wal-Mart fraud investigators told police that they had found “very large-scale fraud and suspected money laundering cases” in the counties of Colin, Dallas, Denton and Talent. They were wary that thousands of cards purchased from all over the country were all redeemed in North Texas – often shortly after they were purchased.
The case began in Colleyville when a 78-year-old man reported to police that he had received an email falsely claiming to be an invoice from Apple. The victim called the toll-free phone number by email.
The person making the call mistakenly claimed to be working for Apple and remotely accessed his phone and computer.
The next day, he noticed a fraudulent charge of $ 400 in his bank account.
With elaborate plans, police said the scammers persuaded men to buy gift cards and give them numbers.
According to court documents, Qiu redeemed the man’s card at Wal-Mart in Frisco only 40 minutes later.
Wal-Mart investigators told police that Qiu redeemed $ 740,000 worth of cards between May 8 and July 7.
The detective later learned that she had redeemed another $ 491,000 card next week.
According to police, Chinese Qiu entered the United States on a student exchange visa in 2015 and applied for asylum.
The status of her asylum application was unclear.
Other victims have been targeted in other ways, including claiming that there is an arrest warrant that needs to be resolved by purchasing a gift card, according to investigators. In yet another plan, the victim was “hired” to become a “secret shopper.”
According to the Federal Trade Commission, gift cards have been at the top of the list of fraudulent payment methods reported each year since 2018. Experts warn that for whatever reason people should not use gift cards to pay the company by wire or mail, and asking them to do so is likely to be a fraud. increase.