TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Wal-Mart Stung in $1.5 Million Bar-Code Scam

Re: Wal-Mart Stung in $1.5 Million Bar-Code Scam

Tony P. (
Wed, 19 Jan 2005 21:47:50 -0500

In article <>,

> By Evan Schuman January 5, 2005

> In a scheme that leveraged a little technology but relied on
> inattentive cashiers, Tennessee authorities have arrested two couples
> on charges that they used bogus bar codes to steal at least $1.5
> million from hundreds of stores -- some belonging to Wal-Mart -- in 19
> states. The group is slated to appear in court Wednesday.

> Although the accused are said to have spent a lot of time and effort
> organizing colleagues in various parts of the country, the technology
> portion of their scheme was quite simple. They are accused of visiting
> a retailer and purchasing a low-priced item. The group would then scan
> the bar codes and simply print out duplicate bar codes, said Thomas
> Dean, the assistant Sumner County (Tennessee) district attorney who is
> assigned to the case.

> The accused -- Michael Poore, 29, and Julie Marie Simmons, 35, also
> known as Julie Poore; and Dewey Howerton, 39, and Laura Howerton, 39
> -- would then go back to the store, tape the duplicate bar code on a
> higher-priced item and purchase the more expensive item at the lower
> scanned price, Dean said in an interview.

> One of the accused, according to the police complaint, would then
> remove the bogus tag and try to return the item to the store for the
> full purchase price. Instead of cash, the defendants would often ask
> for gift cards, Dean said. "Wal-Mart will more quickly put it on a
> gift card than hand you cash," he said.


It isn't just Wal-Mart that got hit by this. Merchants have been
seeing this for at least a decade, or ever since inkjet printers could
print reliable UPC-A or UPC-E bar codes.

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: And I am told that very good color
copiers can trick change-making machines into accepting bogus money
and giving out real change. I don't know how true it is; someone who
works at our local post office said they found some 'funny money' in
the machine which dispenses postage stamps and returns change for up
to a few dollars. PAT]

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