Man cops to $1m phony bar code shoplifting scheme
TJTMiss's stellar eBay rating
An Ohio man has admitted heading a conspiracy that netted more than $1m by using phony Universal Product Code labels to acquire store merchandise and then selling the booty on eBay.
Tommy Joe Tidwell, 35, of Dayton, Ohio, pleaded guilty to three felony counts, including conspiracy to use unauthorized access devices, use of unauthorized access devices and mail and wire fraud. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 40 years. Sentencing is scheduled for January.
According to prosecutors, Tidwell created fraudulent UPC bar code labels on his home PC and then directed conspirators to place them on goods being sold in stores in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Texas. The doctored labels allowed the conspirators to buy the items for a fraction of the real price.
Tidwell then sold the items on eBay, using the user id TJTMiss.
He is the second defendant in the case to plead guilty. David J. Lombardo, 44, pleaded guilty in September to one count of conspiracy to use unauthorized access devices and one count of use of unauthorized access devices. Charges are still pending against two others accused of taking part in the conspiracy.
As was the case with an airport baggage handler charged with stealing passengers' stuff, Tidwell's eBay account enjoyed a stellar reputation. Out of 522 comments left, only four were negative, giving him a positive feedback rating of 99.2.
Typical of the remarks was this one: "Excellent product!!! Great Price!! and Fast Shipping. Highly Recomend!!!"
The score would probably be higher were it not for the work of the FBI and local law enforcement. On July 2, one eBay buyer complained: "Never answered e-mails,never shipped item, had to complain to get money back." Exactly one week later, Tidwell was indicted. ®
@ wayne & his onions
I'd do it just to see the reaction....
"Place your cucumber on the belt."
"Place your KY jelly on the belt"
As kids we use to get dragged along on Saturday mornings for the weekly shop - not especially enjoyable for an 8 year old. We used to liven it up (pre barcode days) by swapping the plain, simple price tags round on items - a particular pleasure on the high value items like a joint of beef. Since the shelves then were not generally marked with the item price, there was no easy reference for prospective buyers (or staff) as to what the price actually was. To sow further confusion, you'd make sure you did half the jars of jam on one shelf, say. We didn't pass these savings on to our parents, as that would have entailed some impact therapy.
In later life, while temporarily incarcerated in an especially nasty corner of the US, a nice trick to make a bit of cash used to be to buy something in one shop, then go to another that sold the identical item at a higher rate to get a refund. Back then you didn't generally need a receipt for low value items to return them and get a refund, and there were no constantly updated stock records. Kmart and Target were favourites as they'd both carry a lot of identical items, often with wildly varying prices - you could comfortably double 20 USD for the sake of half an hour's effort and a 10 minute drive on one item alone. While doubtless illegal, it had the advantage of being virtually unprovable in the days before CCTV, and since shafting others seems integral to the American Dream, it was largely guilt free.
Place your Onions on the belt.
Local supermarket with self service lanes, after each item is scanned or weighed a loud announcement is made, "Place your onions [or whatever item] on the belt." The overseer looks over and notes, yup, onions.