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Large Online Retail Fraud Operation Busted in Florida

State authorities in Florida recently shut down an online retail fraud ring linked to a man’s eBay store where he and others allegedly sold more than $100,000 in stolen vacuum cleaners, beauty supplies and other items.

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement states that an investigation into the activities of Charles R. Griffis, 64, in 2013. Griffis operated an online retail store on eBay he named “Husky’s Shop” where authorities claim he was selling retail merchandise that was stolen from various retail stores across several central Florida counties.

Agents say that he paid a group he called the “Smurfs” to steal items such as Dyson vacuum cleaners, health and beauty supplies, white strips, razor blades, ink cartridges, and other merchandise from retailers such as Walmart, Target, and CVS. According to reports he would pay members of the organized retail crime team up to $200 for a Dyson vacuum cleaner, which he would then resell from his online store to unsuspecting customers for as much as $700. Many of the other items stolen such as ink cartridges and razor blades are commonly targeted by organized retail crime rings due to high consumer demand, high value, and quick resale. The stolen items involved in the online retail fraud scheme totaled more than $100,000.

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Authorities claim the merchandise was stolen for Griffis by four accomplices: James Marvin Bailey, 34, Kara Marie Wolfe, 26, Bonnie Ouellette, 44, and Kay Rhanae Baignosche, 32.

Griffis was booked into Brevard County Jail on December 3rd on charges of organized planning of theft, trafficking stolen property and conspiracy to traffic stolen property charges. He is currently out on bond.

Bailey, who was already in custody on an unrelated charge, and Wolfe were also arrested on December 3rd. They were charged with dealing or trafficking in stolen property and conspiracy to traffic in stolen property. Oulette and Baignosche currently remain at large.

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