Man Arrested for Buying Too Many Gift Cards at CVS

A New Jersey man was arrested after buying multiple gift cards at CVS.

Mount Olive Township Police were called to the CVS location on Tuesday over “suspicious activity,” according to a police report. A man later identified as 28-year-old Craig Nakonechny had “repeatedly” entered and exited the store and ultimately purchased several gift cards.

The police officer “observed multiple gift cards on the front seat of the vehicle.” Somehow the officer concluded that the suspect planned to offer the gift cards in exchange for sex. He had solicited sex, nor had he had any sex. He bought gift cards. And he was arrested for what the officer determined he intended to do with the gift cards.

I’ve been known to explain away the need for a specific connecting city on a throwaway ticket, “I’m having an affair in connecting city ____, don’t worry I only need 45 minutes…”

In the future if I’m ever questioned by law enforcement over buying gift cards I will not joke about it being to pay a prostitute, launder money, or impermissibly earn miles. Because I wouldn’t want to be arrested for falsely obtaining a bonus.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. He was charged with promoting prostitution. What this means is that he was not going to go use the giftcards to buy a prostitute for himself. What it means is they are basically saying he is a pimp running prostitution. If he was just a customer it would be solicitation. So there is either a WHOLE lot more to this story or the police are going to get hit with one hell of a lawsuit.

  2. This case is a dead end or else everyone with a Radar Detector or, for that, a Cell Phone, can be assumed to have it to break the law. Cell Phones and computers can lead to all type of criminal activity. For instance, “He possessed a cell phone that he could use to conduct drug deals.”

    In this case, “Observing multiple gift cards on the front seat of the vehicle…” is hardly grounds for even beginning an investigation. The amounts are variable, the cards may not be activated, etc.
    This type of scenario creates an opportunity for law enforcement to embellish accusations, and eventually tarnishes reputations of law enforcement and a complicit judiciary. If law enforcement wants to investigate something based on a license plate number and video tape of the suspect obtained from CVS, fine. Probably a waste of time, but play out the hunch on your own time, not by arresting someone for purchasing “multiple gift cards.”

  3. One more point… assume the officer is telling the truth and the individual planned to do exactly what he is accused of doing. This is still no grounds for arrest, since, in some states, in some countries, it is not illegal to do what he is accused of doing.

  4. This is a worrying extension of the flawed theory that possession of lots of cash means drug dealing or similar.

  5. Lol this made me think of one of the weirder ways I hit min spend on a card. One of my buddies asked me to post his $2500 bail, he said he would pay me back when he got out. I asked the jailor if they accepted credit cards and sure enough they did. I was worried it would post as a cash advance but it ended up posting as a purchase.

    But then turns out my buddy didnt have the $2500 to cover his bail, so I had to float him the money for a few weeks until his bail was released back to me…who needs enemies when you have friends like these.

  6. This cop has caused the city a $60K settlement in 2016 for something he falsely accused someone in 2012 on some alleged minor traffic violation.
    Even his superior did not quite agree with this overzealous crop’s action yet he proceeded to physically tackled the car driver and handcuffed the guy… $60K was cheap for the city to get it settled.

    Why would the city still hires him?

    Below is from the news link.

    n any event, the case highlights how thin and arbitrary the line between illegal prostitution and permissible courtship can be. Nakonechny isn’t even accused of having sex, or soliciting it—simply purchasing gift cards, which he allegedly planned to exchange for sex somehow.

    Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time Gardner has gone after someone on dubious premises. In 2016, the city settled for $60,000 in a false arrest and excessive force suit stemming from a traffic stop by Gardner in 2012.

    The driver, Carl Granese, was stopped for failing to signal a lane change when Gardner said he smelled weed. Granese agreed to and passed a field sobriety test, but did not consent for Gardner to search his car, so Gardner detained him and called for a K-9 unit. In the interim, another sergeant showed up and approved Granese using his cell phone to make a call. Gardner didn’t like this, and expressed it by tackling Granese to the ground and handcuffing him. The drug dogs found no drugs. But Granese was arrested nonetheless, charged with motor vehicle violations and resisting arrest.

  7. I agree with John. If I have lots of cash and cash equivalents is not per se suspicious. This type of reasoning is just plain scary.

  8. Please, the police will seize the money under RICO laws and he’ll need to prove his innocence to get it back. It’ll cost him more in legal fees than the cards are worth.

  9. i think you’re missing a “not” in the first sentence… :

    “He had ~~~ solicited sex, nor had he had any sex. He bought gift cards. And he was arrested for what the officer determined he intended to do with the gift cards.”

  10. The vast majority of people don’t read miles and points blogs, they don’t have or care about frequent flier miles, and they certainly don’t manufacture spend. Cash is better than the gift cards you can get at those places (especially if you’re buying straight cash equivalents which carry a hefty fee.) A lot of gift cards might not seem odd to people who collect points, but it certainly can seem strange to others. And I assume that if he was just doing the miles and points game, he would’ve explained it to the cop at the time and wouldn’t have been arrested. There’s nothing in the article to indicate that miles or points were the reason he had so many gc.

  11. Maybe he was going to use them to make a donation to the PBA.

    I guess it is true that it could have been for sex, drugs, rhinocerous horns or a bowl of shark fin soup at the local Chinese restaurant as well..

  12. Have filled up my car in that area when driving I-80; it’s just past the Delaware Water Gap. I imagine all sorts of freakazoid craziness happens out there. Hey, it’s rural Jersey.

  13. And this is why when I travel to a country that is averse to credit cards, I ALWAYS have the bank give me paperwork to prove it was from a genuine withdrawal. Don’t let the TSA or an over zealous officer in any country ruin your vacation.

  14. True Story

    Like 3-4 years ago, it was weekend and I was pulled over for speeding on the New Jersey Turnpike. I went into my glove compartment for the registration and such, and didn’t realize I had a stack of like 25 gift cards in there. (I had already used them) Immediately the officers posture and stance changed, as he peppered me with questions. I had nothing to hide, and told him what I was doing/did.

    He ended up not giving me a ticket, but told me I shouldn’t be carrying around that many gift cards. His exact words were that standard operating practice for seeing that many, is to call it in, and while likely nothing would happen – I’d be at the station being asked questions for the better part of the afternoon. His advice was essentially “Hide that shit. The next guy who pulls you over, may not believe you.” Apparently it’s a money laundering concern…

    This story reminded me of that.

  15. Also a prostitute is going to prefer cash not gift cards that could be shoplifted and inactivated. So that scenario sounds extremely unlikely.

  16. What prostitue accepts gift cards? My landlord wont take them, my car/property insurance company won’t take them. I am pretty damn sure I sure as helll do not want to be paid in CVS gift cards as my salary!!!!

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