MORROW, Ga. -- Imagine you've pitched in with your family to buy your mom a $500 iPad. You've all gotten together to present it to her at the birthday party, and she's excited to see the box. Then she opens it and finds nothing more than a stack of paper inside. A family in Morrow said that's what happened to them Saturday night.
"She's worth more than an iPad, definitely worth more than a ream of paper," Chalae Hawkins said about seeing the paper in the box. "And when she opened it, all of those happy feelings turned from pain, to hurt, to embarrassment."
They bought the gift at Target using a credit card. They even overnighted a special case to arrive on time for the party. But when the shrink wrap came off, they said all that was inside was a stack of printer paper. They went back to Target, but said the manager referred them to corporate headquarters. Someone on the phone there told them to call back Monday. They were not happy.
"I was just concerned for my daughter, because I could see the look in her face, and I knew that they were devastated," said birthday girl Diane Ford. "I'm glad I wasn't there at the Target with them, because we all might have gone to jail."
Then they searched online. It turns out this could possibly be a scam that's being seen more and more often all over the world. The family isn't being ripped off by any store; it's possible the store is being ripped off by a scammer.
The scam involves someone buying the iPad and then replacing it with paper or another object of similar weight to an iPad. Then the box is re-shrink wrapped and returned to the store, where it's accidentally re-shelved and resold. Sometimes the scammers hire people off of Craigslist to return the item for them.
Target told 11Alive News they will investigate to see if Hawkins' iPad was part of a fraudulent exchange. Hawkins is still hoping to give her mom a new iPad, but she knows she won't be able to get back the surprise of the party.
"We lost the sentimental side of her getting this gift," Hawkins said. "We can't get that back."
Marc McAfee, WXIA