The Midlothian Police Department is urging the public to be on the lookout for gift card scams this holiday season.

“If you are getting last-minute Christmas gift cards, beware of fake barcodes,” the department warned. “Scammers are printing barcodes and placing them on gift cards. Make sure there isn't a fake barcode taped onto the card.”

The department posted a picture on its Facebook page on Dec. 20, showing a bar code being peeled off a gift card to reveal the real data.

The department didn’t say if they were able to confiscate any of these cards or which company/companies they represented. Reports indicate, however, that the scam might have originated in Florida.

“Scammers are printing out their own barcodes and placing them over the actual gift card barcode at local retailers. When the card is activated, the money is added to the scammer’s card instead of the card being purchased,” according to the Tampa Bay Times in a Dec. 17 article.

The Federal Trade Commission found in a 2018 study that gift cards and reload cards were the payment method in 26 percent of fraud cases where people indicated the method of payment – a 270 percent increase since 2015.

“Con artists favor these cards because they can get quick cash, the transaction is largely irreversible, and they can remain anonymous,” the Commission noted in an Oct. 16, 2018 article.