A man in Texas allegedly stole credit cards to stock up on a near-unlimited supply of chicken nuggets and waffle fries, purchasing a total of $9,000 worth of Chick-fil-A gift cards over the span of two days.
Police in Austin, Texas, arrested David Ricketts, 26, on May 6 after employees called and reported a man they believed was using stolen credit cards.
According to reports, Ricketts attempted to use multiple credit cards that day to buy about $2,000 worth of gift cards. Investigators also later found he'd purchased $7,000 in gift cards from the same restaurant two days before.
So how much chicken would $9,000 buy at Chick-fil-A? Even if Ricketts were to purchase the large version of every item on the menu, plus each kid's meal, he'd still have about $8,750 left to spend, or enough for 35 more visits buying everything on the menu.
Ricketts probably won't get his Chick-fil-A fix any time soon, though. He is currently being held on a $15,000 bond and faces forgery and credit card abuse charges. After this incident, Chick-fil-A will require all customers to show ID if they want to purchase gift cards with a credit or debit card.
In today's digital age, identity thieves don't need a physical credit card to go shopping. That's why it's a good idea to check your credit card statements for anything strange — like gift certificate charges at Chick-fil-A. (You can also view your free credit report once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com and see two of your credit scores for free, updated monthly, on Credit.com.)
Related: 7 things you wouldn't think to do with a gift card
7 things you wouldn't think to do with your gift cards
Man allegedly uses stolen credit cards to buy $9K in Chick-fil-A gift cards
1. Use it to pay bills.
No, don't stuff your cards back in the odds-and-ends drawer and wait for a better time to spend it. Depending on the card and the retailer, you can use your balance to pay for stuff you'd normally pay for – even your bills, if your gift is a debit card from a bank. Take the money you would have spent on groceries or gas and put it in the bank instead. You may even be able to convert your card to cash and save a step. Check the terms and conditions.
2. Sell them.
In recent years, a bunch of websites have sprung up that buy and sell gift cards at a discount. Buyers can save a little money on gift cards for gifts or purchase goods and services. Sellers can convert their cards to cash to use however they'd like. Prices on these exchanges fluctuate with demand, and some cards are more desirable than others. But if you don't mind taking a little cut on the value of your card, they're a decent option. Be sure to shop around before buying or selling – prices vary across exchanges. Here are a few options: GiftCards.com, Cardpool and GiftCardRescue.com.
3. Trade them with your friends and colleagues.
If you trust your friends and co-workers to tell the truth about the balances on their cards, set up a trading circle to match cards with recipients. Will you take two of my Applebee's for one of your AMC Theatres?
4. Track the balance.
After a couple of lattes and a scone, just how much is left on that Starbucks' gift card? You can usually discover the balance by visiting the issuer's website, or you can use an app like GoWallet to scan your card (or cards) and let it track the balance for you. GoWallet also offers a gift card exchange.
5. Carry them in your smartphone.
You can spend your gift cards using GoWallet, too, which is a lot more convenient than carrying them around. Apple Passbook and Google Wallet can do this for you as well.
6. Donate them.
Even if your card has a partial balance, most charities will happily accept it. If your preferred charity does not, check out CharityGiftCertificates.org where you can choose a charity to donate the card to. Gift Card Giver also distributes cards to nonprofits and those in need.
7. Regift them.
If your card is in good condition inside and out (no partial balances!), you can thoughtfully re-gift it to someone else. You may not like to shop at Macy's, but for someone who does, that unused gift card cluttering your desk drawer will soon be happily spent.