Two New York men have been arrested and accused of stealing $257,000 from Home Depot stores in an elaborate shoplifting scheme involving two shopping carts containing identical items.
According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Renauld Medard and Wesly Diedonne, both of Brooklyn, N.Y., defrauded the home improvement retailer by making fraudulent returns at various Home Depot stores throughout the United States. From July 2009 through November 2011, the suspects are accused of running a “double-dipping” scheme under the following scenario:
Medard and Diedonne routinely made purchases of various items from Home Depot locations in New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. They would allegedly assemble two shopping carts containing identical items. Leaving one cart of merchandise stashed in a location in the store ("Cart 2"), Medard and Diedonne purchased the identical set of items contained in the other cart ("Cart 1"). They would typically purchase the items in Cart 1 using cash, credit cards, fraudulently obtained store credit or a combination of the three, according to prosecutors.
Medard and Diedonne would then leave the store with the items in Cart 1, as well as the receipt issued by the store for the purchase, leaving Cart 2 inside the store.
Medard and Diedonne would return to the store almost immediately with a receipt corresponding to the items in Cart 1 and retrieve Cart 2, containing items identical to those in Cart 1. Under the guise that they had forgotten to purchase an item, usually an inexpensive one, Medard and Diedonne would return to the register with Cart 2, and purchase only the one additional small item, investigators claim. They would present the receipt for the items previously purchased from Cart 1 in the prior transaction and attempt to deceive the cashier into believing that the items in Cart 2 had already been purchased.
Medard and Diedonne would later go back to the same Home Depot store or traveled to different Home Depot store locations to return the items. In some instances, Medard and Diedonne presented a receipt in order to effectuate the return. In other instances, defendants Medard and Diedonne obtained a refund for store credit without presenting a receipt, according to law enforcement authorities.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office believes that the suspects carried out the scheme hundreds of times at various Home Depot locations in numerous states, fraudulently obtaining Home Depot store credit and refunds totaling at least $257,462.95. The estimate is based on, among other things, the purchase receipts, return receipts, video surveillance tapes and the identification information submitted in connection with non-receipted refunds.
The U.S. Secret Service aided in the investigation, and the defendants have been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. They were scheduled to make their initial court appearances on Dec. 19 in a Newark, N.J., federal court.