How does the Nordstrom return policy scam work?

Okay, let me first make it very clear that I in NO way intend to use this scam. In fact, my girlfriend works for Nordstrom and we are both trying to figure out how this scam works because people have tried to do it to her several times. So far what we understand is this much: People use store gift certificates... show more Okay, let me first make it very clear that I in NO way intend to use this scam. In fact, my girlfriend works for Nordstrom and we are both trying to figure out how this scam works because people have tried to do it to her several times.

So far what we understand is this much: People use store gift certificates to purchase really expensive clothing that they don't ever intend to wear. Then they send friends back in to the store to return the merchandise for cash. Thus turning gift credit into cash. These customers are really easy to spot because when they come in because they display the following characteristics: they look underdressed for the department in which they are shopping, they go straight for the most expensive items and then purchase them without even trying them on.

My question: How do they obtain the gift credit in the first place? I understand that the store's liberal return policy effectively renders any department into a kind of ATM, whereby credit is converted into cash by returning clothing. But there's just no reason to do so unless the gift certificate is purchased by fraudulent means (i.e. a bad credit card or something like that). Am I missing something? Can someone explain this to me?
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