WINNIPEG -- The Winnipeg Police Service is warning the public about a new prepaid credit card scheme, where the card is being taken out of the package and replaced with an unusable product.

Const. Jay Murray said they have recently become aware of fraudulent activity regarding prepaid credit cards, where a person will steal an inactive prepaid card in its packaging and replace it with a blank or used one. The packaging is then resealed and put back in the store.

Murray said most prepaid credit cards are activated at the time of purchase through a magnetic stripe on the packaging, not the card itself. Therefore, the thief is hoping the card will become active once it’s purchased by someone else.

Murray said fake cards can’t be seen from outside the packaging, and that unassuming customers and cashiers might not realize the product has been tampered with.

Murray urges anyone buying a prepaid credit card to look carefully at the packaging, and if anything seems unusual to tell a store employee or contact the prepaid cred’s vendor.

Reports of tampered cards can be made to police, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre or the card’s vendor.

Murray said he feels it’s important to arm people with information so they can protect themselves.

“We’ll probably get criticized by some individuals for providing this information but we believe it’s very important for people to protect themselves and we want everyone to not be taken by surprise when the open these prepaid cards, especially if they’re Christmas gifts.”