By Brad Edwards

(CBS) — A suburban grandmother sends her love with back-to-school gift cards for her 10 grandchildren. Instead, those kids are stuck with worthless pieces of plastic.

It looked like the family was out of luck, until CBS 2’s Brad Edwards got involved.

READ MORE: Milixen Ardon And Wilfredo Cruz Charged With Murder Of 2-Year-Old Alisson Zelayz, Who Suffered Burns And Bruises In Chicago Lawn

Those gift cards were for shoes. When the grandkids went to buy them, however, they were told the cards already had been used.

“I work very hard for this money. I’m a 68-year-old grandmother, and I work the morning shift at Starbucks,” Jeannine Jaworowski says.

She says she socks away money each week for her 10 grandkids to help them buy shoes. She’s done it for the past 10 years.

This year, like every other, she bought $50 gift cards from Finish Line — 10 of them. But when the first batch of kids went to buy merchandise at the store within Chicago Ridge Mall, eight of the 10 cards were already used — likely compromised. She called and called to try to find out what had happened; at one point, she says, someone accused her of trying to manufacture the cards.

“To have $500 go down the drain like that, I’m upset and I’m sick about it,” she says.

READ MORE: Officer Shoots Suspect In Kenosha County, Sources Say Police K-9 Also Wounded

Jaworowski contacted CBS 2.

It turns out, it’s a growing trend. A tip: When buying gift cards at the store check the packaging make sure it hasn’t been tampered with.

Finish Line got back to CBS 2 quickly.

“We have worked directly with her today and appreciate that she reached out to us so we could assist,” a spokesperson said.

The family says not only were all their gift-cards re-upped, but all 10 grandchildren will get their back-to-school shoes for free.

An investigation continues.

MORE NEWS: Two Chicago Police Officers Wounded By Accidental Friendly Fire While Confronting Suspect In Lyons, Police Say

The FBI and the Better Business Bureau offer additional tips on how to avoid getting scammed.

Brad Edwards