By Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) — A Mansfield woman says she is rethinking her holiday shopping strategy after an effort to buy an electronic gift went terribly wrong.

As a dog-lover with two adorable West Highland Terriers, Lynne Ferlisi wanted to celebrate a neighbor’s new puppy, so she went online and bought an electronic gift card for Petco.

When Lynne’s neighbor went shopping for new toys for her puppy, named Kobe, she was told the gift card had a zero balance. She called Lynne, and Lynne immediately got on the phone with Petco.

“They basically said to me, ‘It’s like cash, lost or stolen, we can’t help you.'”

Lynne told us she spent weeks calling and emailing Petco, and that several times her case was elevated to different levels of customer service, but the company refused to reissue the $100 gift card.

“We didn’t do anything wrong, we did everything by the book,” she said. “Somebody stole it, granted, but it wasn’t through our own fault.”

That’s when Lynne reached out to the I-Team’s Call for Action. “If anybody could get through, maybe it would be you guys,” she told us.

Lynne Ferlisi with her two dogs (WBZ-TV)

When we contacted Petco, a spokesperson told us the card was fraudulently accessed and used in another state. But they didn’t explain how that happened. In a statement the company said:

“We’re aware of Ms. Ferlisi’s unfortunate experience with a Petco e-gift card and regret any inconvenience and frustration the situation has caused. We’ve thoroughly investigated Ms. Ferlisi’s claim and it appears the gift card was issued to the gift recipient and then fraudulently accessed and redeemed in another state. Like any retailer, we are not liable for gift cards that are copied, lost or stolen after they are issued, but in an effort of good faith, we’re arranging for full reimbursement for Ms. Ferlisi and working with our third-party e-gift card provider to prevent this type of occurrence from happening again.”

Petco sent Lynne a $40 credit and a $120 gift card for Kobe. She told us she was grateful for our help, but it’s an experience she won’t forget.

“I will never buy another e-card again.”

According to the FBI, gift card fraud is a huge problem, but it usually involves physical cards and not electronic versions.

Lynn told us a Petco executive called to apologize and said the company had never experienced this type of fraud before.

If you need help resolving a consumer issue, contact the I-Team’s Call for Action by emailing wbzcallforaction@cbs.com or calling 617-787-7070, Tuesday – Friday between 11:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Paula Ebben

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