By Steve Patrick
FDLE agents arrested three suspects suspected of an elaborate scheme stealing thousands from retailers across the southeastern U.S., including more than 100 thefts in 23 Florida counties. Two suspects remain at large.
The investigation began in May after FDLE was contacted by The Home Depot about a barcode switch scam. Agents believe the suspects printed fraudulent UPC barcodes on adhesive stickers and then placed the false labels over UPC barcodes on more expensive products at The Home Depot and Target stores.
Suspects printed UPC codes for $7.99 electrical outlets and placed them over barcodes for wireless smart dimmer switches costing $99.95 and home wifi systems costing $299. They also printed UPC barcodes for $19.97 rotary tool accessory kits, using the fraudulent codes to purchase $199 smart thermostats.
The investigation shows one suspect placed the false barcodes on the merchandise in store while another purchased the products. Suspects routinely purchased dozens of items costing stores thousands of dollars in a single transaction.