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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > April 2024 > Man indicted in Coshocton County for gift-card counterfeiting scheme

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Man indicted in Coshocton County for gift-card counterfeiting scheme

In January 2024, a Coshocton County grand jury indicted Ming Xue on 309 felony charges related to a gift-card counterfeiting scheme.

Xue, 32, of Hunan, Fujian, faces 308 counts of counterfeiting and one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity after allegedly being seen hiding unloaded gift cards on his body at a Walmart in Coshocton.

Deputies later found hundreds of other gift cards in his vehicle.

Xue is suspected of participating in a scheme with others in which they stole unloaded gift cards, altered the card and placed them back into display racks. When consumers purchased the altered gift cards, Xue and others allegedly stole the funds placed on the cards.

When buying gift cards in a store, consumers should make sure that the PIN, generally found on the back of a card, isn’t already scratched off or been tampered with. Some scammers go into stores, scratch off PINs, record the numbers, and put the cards back on shelves. Then they check to see whether a consumer has purchased (or put any funds on) one or more of the cards. If a card has money on it, scammers attempt to drain it. Some scammers even replace the security film sticker – which can be bought in bulk – so the PIN appears unexposed. Look for signs that the security film has been replaced (i.e., if it is crooked or has air bubbles).

Consumers should be sure to note when gift cards being delivered via the U.S. Postal Service are expected. It’s a good idea to track delivery so the cards aren’t snagged by mail thieves or accidentally disposed of. Likewise, when mailing gift cards to others, consider taking them directly to a post office instead of putting them in an unlocked mailbox to be picked up. Another option is sending an electronic gift card to an email address or phone number that you know belongs to the intended recipient. Remember that once a thief has control of a physical or electronic gift card with the PIN, it may be very easy for the thief to redeem or transfer the full card value.

Consumers who suspect a scam or an unfair business practice should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.