Gift Card Reseller Gets Over 5 Years Behind Bars For Catch-All “Conspiracy To Commit Money Laundering”

Stephen McIntyre called himself the ‘Tampa Gift Card King’ and after $10 million in volume faces five years and three months behind bars for “conspiracy to commit money laundering.” The gift card reseller reportedly violated Florida law in at least four ways:

  1. He failed to register as a secondhand dealer
  2. He didn’t wait 15 days between buying and reselling secondhand goods
  3. He failed to enter transactions in the Business Watch International database which he’d have been required to do
  4. Knowingly accepting and reselling stolen gift cards

In addition he appears to have had a scam where he’d sell gift cards at or and provide only the card number and PIN. He’d retain those for himself. And then he’d wait until gift cards were partially used. Then he’d drain their balances, combine them, and use the funds to buy new gift cards to sell.

It seems to me that the only thing he did that’s really problematic in the bulleted list (as opposed to technically illegal) is accepting stolen cards (if true) and stealing residual balances off of gift cards he sold. All the rest are regulatory infractions, where the specific rules vary by state. I didn’t even know that Florida required 15 days between buying and selling used items. Perhaps he’d have learned of this requirement if he had properly registered, but he wasn’t eligible to do so because of a prior criminal conviction.

(HT: Robert G.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Gary, knowingly accepting and reselling stolen gift cards is not a “technical” violation.

  2. There’s a woman on my local Facebook marketplace who is clearly selling stolen retail merchandise. It’s all a random assortment of new-in-box toys, home goods, etc. Stuff you’d find at Walmart or Target. She always asks like 50% of retail price. I tried to buy LEGOs from her one time and she wanted me to meet in a parking lot across town from where her profile said she was located, cash only. Then I looked and saw the rest of her listings, finally had to block her so she didn’t crowd out all the legit stuff.

  3. While I have in general trusted your blogging reports, I now have to wonder about the low bar you set for ethics in saying that “ Knowingly accepting and reselling stolen gift cards” is not “really problematic” ans just a technical Infraction.

  4. @Mad Max that is not at all what I intended to communicate, I was suggesting that the first three items in the bulleted list were paperwork infractions or things that might be legal in one place and not another. I wanted to focus on the bad actions (accepting stolen goods, stealing from customers) and not on ‘didn’t hold used items for enough days before reselling’.

  5. @ Gary — I do agree with @MadMax that your post was not clear. I had to read it three times to release what you were saying…

  6. IDK if Gary has edited his article, but it’s clear to me as written now! He clearly writes that “accepting stolen cards (if true) and stealing residual balances off of gift cards he sold” IS/ARE “really problematic”, “AS OPPOSED TO technically illegal” stuff such as Items 1, 2, & 3!

  7. Oh if you steal residual balances you will 100% get caught. All it takes is a handful of data points and the lineage points directly back to you! They can catch you with simple statistics without even having to question you.

  8. @Steve- What this lady is likely doing is one of two things: She is a couponer and uses her overages to buy items on sale/clearance at stores and then resells her surplus items. We have a TON of coupon shoppers in our area and the overages can be HUGE sometimes. I am a couponer myself and last year I bought several hundred dollars in gift cards for Outback and Longhorn Steakhouse with overage deals at a drug store. Perfectly legal. The other thing is she could be buying out “zeroed out” items from some retailers who do this, things that are set to be gotten rid of are listed at $0 in the computer, but if a customer brings them up they sell it for like .01, there are entire facebook groups listing them every day!!! We also have “bundlers” who buy lots of returns from big stores and sell them for say $200-$500 for the whole pallet and people buy them to resell the individual items of random things, usually for a fraction of retail. Don’t assume she is committing a crime, I have followed many of these groups/boards and a lot of them are just working people trying to get by.

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