A 23-Year-Old Accused of Stealing $1.3M in a Return Fraud Crime Spree

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Last week, Thomas Frudaker was arrested on suspicion of returning a computer without all of its components to a Walmart in Yuma, Arizona. But, turns out, it wasn’t Frudy’s first rodeo… the 23-year-old had pulled the same stunt at about 1,000 other Walmarts across the country, authorities say. This would make Frudaker a modern day Butch Cassidy and an obviously exceptional bandit, but this type of thievery (return fraud) is an increasingly common problem for retailers… both on and offline.

Authorities later stated that Frudaker had defrauded more than 1,000 Walmart stores across the country over 18 months, which (if accurate) means Frudaker swindled more than 20% of Walmart’s 4,761 American locations. By repeating a simple pattern 1.) Buy hardware 2.) Secretly remove valuable components.  3.) Return the gear for full price. Frudaker cost Walmart an estimated $1.3M, police say.

Walmart isn’t the only retailer wrestling with this problem. Across the industry, retail fraud is a $17B problem. Just this month, a couple was sentenced to nearly 6 years in jail for stealing $1.2M worth of electronics from Amazon, claiming false defects to receive free replacements. Now, Footloose-Frudaker may face a similar fate. After he was booked on 6 felony charges by Yuma police, Frudaker was being held on $40K bail and appeared in court yesterday afternoon. [Source: The Hustle]

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