Barcode offenders have been assigned to a special prison.
A 27-year old Serbian immigrant in Indiana stole $70,000 in merchandise from a Lowe’s store by creating fake bar code stickers for low priced items and sticking them on high priced items. He’d pay the lower price, then either return them and get the higher price, or sell them on eBay. Branko Nenadic, who’d been in this country for almost 10 years, pulled off this scam in about 100 stores in a dozen states.
He was caught. His penalty? Fifteen months in jail, and possible deportation.
He obviously wasn’t thinking about the risks he was taking versus the rewards he was getting. He only stole an average of $7,000 a year, and may be deported as a result.
If only he had thought big, like this ring of crooks in Ohio.
Tommy Joe Tidwell, 35, led a group that stole merchandise by altering UPC labels. He and three others replaced the codes with labels printed on his home computer. They put the labels on products in stores in five different states, bought them for a cheaper price and sold them on eBay. But in their case, they made over $1 million in one year.
Online, Mr. Tidwell looked like a successful eBay merchant with glowing scores, selling brand-new products at good prices. He was caught when a detective in Ohio got a tip from a suspicious eBay customer about an item that still had price tags attached from a local store. That led to eBay releasing files to the police, local retailers being alerted about the scam, and an employee at KMart recognizing Mr. Tidwell, who fled on foot and was arrested at a White Castle burger joint.
Mr. Tidwell was sentenced to 7 years in prison.
A bit lower on the scale of barcode crimes is Mr. Ashok Kumar Patel, aged 38, of Stoke-on-Trent, England. He used fake barcodes to save himself about $20 on four bottles of Listerine mouthwash.
He was jailed for 20 weeks.
Mr. Patel had previous convictions for dishonesty, fraud and forgery, and had only recently been released from jail.
His lawyer said Mr. Patel’s latest crime showed "a lack of sophistication."
– Man gets 15 months in scam targeting Lowe’s stores, Chicago Tribune>>
– Huber detective cracks scam – Breaks up ring of thieves who were putting low cost bar codes on costly merchandise, Dayton Daily News>>
– Dayton man admits role in $1M theft ring – Tommy Joe Tidwell placed fraudulent UPC codes on merchandise, then bought the items at a reduced price, Dayton Daily News>>
– Stoke conman loses appeal on supermarket barcode scam, Coventry Telegraph>>