A federal grand jury has indicted four metro Atlanta men in an alleged “ticket switching” scheme that spread over 10 states.
Robert Lee Hatcher III, 31, Arthur James Freeman, and Willie Dewayne Lynch, 29, all of Atlanta, have been arraigned before U.S. magistrate judge. Andrew Oliver, 61, of Stone Mountain, is still at large.
“These defendants are charged with participating in a scheme to defraud Home Depot over a period of several years, in ten states that span as far north as Kentucky and North Carolina, all the way south to Florida and west to Texas,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates in a news release.According to Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: Beginning in at least January 2011, Hatcher, Lynch, and Oliver entered Home Depot stores in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, and selected items for purchase. Prior to purchasing the items, they covered the UPC labels on high-priced merchandise with UPC labels they removed from lower-priced merchandise, a practice known as “ticket-switching.” The defendants then took the merchandise to a sales terminal, where they purchased it for the lower price.
After fraudulently purchasing the merchandise, Hatcher, Lynch, and
Oliver removed the lower-priced UPC label, revealing the original,
higher-priced UPC label. Hatcher, Lynch, and Oliver then returned the
fraudulently purchased merchandise to Home Depot without a receipt, in
order to obtain refund credit cards in the amount of the actual, and
higher, retail price of the merchandise.
Hatcher, Lynch, and Oliver then sold the refund credit cards to Freeman in exchange for cash in an amount less than the face value of the refund credit cards. Freeman used the fraudulently obtained refund credit cards to purchase merchandise from Home Depot, which he used to stock inventory in two retail stores that he owns and operates in Atlanta known as “Bargain Wholesale."