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

J Kelly (
Thu, 20 Jan 2005 16:39:26 -0600

On Wed, 19 Jan 2005 21:47:50 -0500, Tony P.
<> wrote:

> In article <>,
> says:

>> 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]

I doubt that most change machines can be fooled. I worked with a few
more than 10 years ago, and even those old things couldn't be easily
fooled. Not only did they use optical sensors but also magnetic.
Apparently real money has some sort of magnetic thread in it. The
boss of the place knew every trick in the book to defraud the place of
money, so if he could have copied money and fed it into the machine,
he would have, just to rip the place off.

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: Fred Atkinson: "Re: Don't Allow Under-9s to Use a Mobile"
Go to Previous message: Alan Burkitt-Gray: "Re: Young Cell Users Rack Up Debt, One Dime Message at a Time"
May be in reply to: Monty Solomon: "Wal-Mart Stung in $1.5 Million Bar-Code Scam"
Next in thread: T. Sean Weintz: "Re: Wal-Mart Stung in $1.5 Million Bar-Code Scam"
TELECOM Digest: Home Page