A Virginia man, formerly of China, scammed at least two people out of $10,000 in one day through a gift card scheme at Walmart in Boaz.
While Boaz Police Chief Josh Gaskin was in the store buying supplies for his department Wednesday, Aug. 14, he said members of Walmart’s security team approached him with concerns about a man who had been in and out of the store all day buying gift cards.
Shortly after Gaskin was notified of the activity, the man, who was later identified as Peishi Liu, 29, came to the register beside the police chief, began to load several gift cards and check out. Members of security then asked Liu to leave and not return, but the suspect would not.
Once Liu started to argue with members of security, Gaskin said he approach Liu and asked him what he was doing. Liu claimed he was a “gamer” and was buying gift cards to use for gaming purposes. After investigation, Gaskin later determined Liu was lying and arrested him for obstruction of government operations.
Liu claimed he was using a credit card to purchase the gift cards, but after security ran a check, Gaskin said evidence showed Liu was using Walmart gift card information on his phone sent from another “scammer.” That’s when Gaskin realized Liu could be the “runner” in a much bigger scheme.
After arresting Liu, Gaskin said officers searched the vehicle he was renting and found more than $10,000 worth of gift cards.
Walmart’s global investigators and the Secret Service are now involved in the case, Gaskin said. The Secret Service is expected to pick up the case and charges, according to Gaskin.
Investigators recently tracked down two victims — one in Maine and another in Michigan — that were tricked into sending their Walmart card information to a scammer, which was then sent to Liu. One was scammed online, Gaskin said. The other was scammed over the phone.
“If this guy was getting $10,000 in gift cards per day by doing this, just imagine how many other people are being scammed like this,” Gaskin said. “Imagine how much money people like him are stealing every day.
“There are so many layers to it,” Gaskin added. “The more people and different things that get involved in doing a scam like this, the harder it is to track.”
Liu has also been charged with second degree theft by deception. He is currently in Boaz City Jail.