Barcode Scam to get $4.99 iPod



A Colorado University student was arrested for a barcode scam after trying to buy an iPod for $4.99 (with a fake barcode) at a Colorado Target store. Apparently the scam was successful once and he came back a second time. Basically he used a barcode printing program to duplicate the barcode for a cheap item, then pasted the “new improved” barcode over the legitimate one. According to the article, he sought out female checkers that he guessed would be less likely to pay attention to the electronics at such a low price.


He was caught by the Target security specialists that recognized him from his first visit to the store. There was a day when people working in retail stores knew every item in their department fairly well and had a general idea of the price range. Of course, these days with mega stores it seems that no one knows what the price for anything is. The computer is the ultimate arbitor. So, if it’s labelled $50 and the computer says it’s $5, checkers will invariably assume that it’s on sale, closeout, etc.

Some suggest that RFID is a solution to this type of scam, but I wonder if that doesn’t have it’s own possibilities of being falsified. The other suggestion I read was one time use bar-codes, the computer would red-flag anything with a duplicate (or out of range) tracking code. (1 set of numbers for the item itself, a second part with the unique “this one” identifier). So, when they’re checked in, we’ve got iPod blah model, numbers 5,6,7,8,9,10 – then if someone tries to buy iPod blah model and it rings up as item #90 we have a problem.

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One Response to “Barcode Scam to get $4.99 iPod”

  1. The PC Doctor Says:


    Fooling around with barcodes

    Attacks on a system designed for convenience that later becomes a security feature are easy!
    A Colorado University student was arrested for a barcode scam after trying to buy an iPod for $4.99 (with a fake barcode) at a Colorado Target store. Apparen…


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