Human Services Heist: Donated Gift Cards Stolen

DENVER (CBS4) – A cold-hearted Grinch at Denver’s Human Services Department swiped about a dozen gift cards that arrived just before Christmas — gift cards that were supposed to go to needy seniors.

“Its a really sad thing that anyone would do something like that,” said Revekka Balancier, spokesperson for Denver’s Department of Human Services.

The CBS4 investigation learned that gift cards for stores like Target and Wal-Mart arrived at Denver Human Services main office, 1200 Federal Blvd., in mid-December. Employees at a Denver law firm, Faegre and Benson, had donated about a dozen gift cards, valued at roughly $750. In turn, the Human Services Department was supposed to distribute the cards as Christmas gifts for elderly men and women in need. But some time after the cards arrived, they disappeared. Human Services has not reported the theft to Denver police but has been using its own human resources personnel, legal staff and welfare fraud investigators to look into who snatched the cards. They’ve been interviewing department employees and reviewing surveillance videotape from the day the cards went missing.

“They are looking into all the details about how the cards went missing,” Balancier said. “If we find employee involvement we will take action per city rules. Our investigation is looking at specifics but I can’t disclose anything about suspects at this time.”

The Department of Human Services notified Faegre-Benson about the theft this month, several days after CBS4 began asking questions.

Candace Whitaker, a spokesperson for the law firm, said, “While unfortunate, this theft will not dampen the generosity of our volunteers or the firm’s commitment to the community.”

She said the firm has a long history of service to the community and employees participate in several other holiday gift projects.

As the probe continues, the Department of Human Services says another donor was found before Christmas who agreed to pay to replace the stolen gift cards so seniors who asked for gift cards still received them for the holidays.

– Written by Brian Maass


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