Virginia man stole from hundreds with gift card scam, police say

Fairfax County Police have arrested a man who they say stole thousands of dollars from people across all 50 states through a gift card scam.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

Jiale Li, 26, of Blacksburg, was arrested on Sept. 1. Police say Li was running a phone scam where individuals would pretend to work for the IRS, Social Security Administration, Microsoft, or the DEA and tell victims that they would need to purchase a gift card to stay out of jail or to fix their account. 

Li would then use the gift cards to purchase more gift cards then sell them at a discounted rate of their value. 

Detectives identified hundreds of victims in almost all 50 states and say that Li purchased more than $500,000 worth of gift cards using the gift cards that were originally obtained from the victims. 

At the time of his arrest, Li was in possession of over $176,000 in laundered gift cards. 

MORE FROM FOX 5: Woman, 2 juveniles killed in crash involving tractor-trailer on Interstate-66 in Fairfax County

He has been charged with three counts of obtaining money by false pretense and money laundering. He is being held without bond at the adult detention center.

Police have provided tips for identifying scams such as these: 

  • Slow down! Ask yourself, does this seem legitimate?
  • Scammers often make their caller ID appear real to try and trick you.
  • If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from a law enforcement agency telling you there is a warrant out for your arrest and demands payment to resolve the warrant, STOP!
  • Federal and local law enforcement departments will not ask you for money or payment in the form of gift cards to avoid arrest.
  • When in doubt, do not provide any form of payment and find a way to contact the company directly.
  • If someone calls you offering tech support or claiming your computer has a virus, hang up.
  • If they are asking for payment with gift cards of any kind, it is likely a scam. 

If you believe you or a loved one have been scammed, file a report with the Financial Crimes Online Reporting (FiCOR) system here.