New Jersey could soon have a new “Stop the Fraud” law designed to crack down on scammers who coerce gullible Jersey residents into buying refillable gift cards then revealing the activation code information on the back of the card so the con artists can use them.

Legislation, A802, sponsored by Assemblyman Anthony Verrelli, D-Mercer, would require all stores in the state that sell refillable gift cards to train employees on how to identify and respond to gift card fraud.

He said many people are falling for these schemes, so if workers can be trained to  "prevent them from being taken advantage of, I think that’s our duty as legislators and as individuals as a whole in society.”

Verrelli said he decided to sponsor the bill after learning a pharmacy worker in his district had asked an elderly customer if everything was all right after she tried to buy a thousand of dollars worth of gift cards instead of her usual purchase of a small bottle of medication.

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“And then she proceeded to tell him she had received an email and a call that said your computer is frozen and if you want it to be fixed it’ll cost you a thousand dollars and we would recommend you go to the store and purchase gift cards and then give us the numbers on the cards,” he said.

Verrelli pointed out other scammers will call up and say things like, “your daughter or granddaughter is in the hospital or something happened and the police have her and we need money.”

He said the worker at the cash register might be the only person who can recognize when someone seems to be getting duped in this manner, so it’s important for them to be trained to ask some simple questions.

“There are a lot of bad actors out there and I think the pandemic has brought that to a new level because everybody has been kind of isolated," he said.

The legislation would fine a retail establishment that does not train employees $1,000.

The bill has been passed by the full Assembly and is now being considered by the State Senate Commerce Committee.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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