18 Arrested for Return Fraud Scheme

18 Arrested for Return Fraud - Store Return Policies

Image provided by WJAX – TV

A group of 18 suspects were arrested in Florida for return fraud and shoplifting in Volusia County. The shoplifters exploited a common hole in brick and mortar return policies.

Various retailers give store credit for returns without receipts. In this scheme suspects shoplifted merchandise from Home Depot’s, Lowe’s, Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us, among others. They then would return the merchandise back to the stores for gift cards.

The gift cards were then sold at Cash for Gift Cards owned by Dale Chester Holcombe and James Dale Holcombe. They operated two stores in Daytona Beach and Deltona.

Authorities have named this investigation Operation Plastic Paradise. Additional arrests are expected soon.

Retailers have tightened up returns policies to avoid fraudulent returns. Most have limited or completely eliminated returns without receipts. Walmart will issue cash for items under $25 or a gift card for items over $25 without a receipt; however, Walmart limits returns without a receipt to three within a 45 day period.

Return fraud cost retailers $9.1 billion in 2015. Retailers will continue to try to reduce return fraud by modifying return policies.