Most practitioners of the “hot exchange” — the retail grift where a fraudster steals an item then “returns” it to the store for a refund — are happy to chisel away a criminal living, earning $50 here, $100 there. But one Texas man was thinking big when he stole — and then returned — more than $11,000 from Home Depot stores.
KSAT 12 reports that a 27-year-old San Antonio man allegedly ran a hot exchange scheme at half a dozen Home Depot stores in the area, obtaining more than $11,000 worth of store credit via gift cards.
Home Depot security investigators uncovered the scheme when they viewed surveillance video showing a man entering the store empty-handed and then taking merchandise off shelves and placing them in Home Depot bags.
According to an affidavit, the man then allegedly walked over to the store’s return counter and exchanged the items for store credit.
Authorities claim the man would then leave the store and sell the gift cards on Facebook for a discount, KENS 5 reports.
On Feb. 18, police say the man collected more than $3,200 in bogus returns from six Home Depots. After he was arrested on March 30, police connected him to additional alleged thefts, resulting in more charges and taking the total amount into five-digit territory.