Scammers Manipulate Lowe’s Receipt-Checking Policy To Steal $80,000 In Tools

Many consumers don’t like it when stores check their receipts on the way out of the building, claiming it treats all shoppers like shoplifting suspects. But a trio of scammers had no problem showing their receipt at Lowe’s, running a multi-state shoplifting/return scheme for several months.

According to WAVE3, the men would start out from their home base in the Danville, KY, area and then drive the 90-ish miles to Southern Indiana, swiping stuff from various Lowe’s stores along the way.

But this wasn’t a simple matter of walking out of the store with power tools and hoping no one would notice. No, it actually involved someone first making a legitimate purchase of some pricey equipment.

Once the first scammer had made the purchase, he’d then hand off the receipt to an accomplice, who would head back into that store using that receipt as a shopping list. This second person would then gather up the same items and walk out of the store, showing the receipt as evidence that they’d purchased these products.

Then they would go to another Lowe’s store and use that receipt to return the original, legitimately purchased items for cash before doing it all over again.

Steal, rinse, repeat.

“You’re talking every day, 3-5 stores a day,” explains a detective from Clarksville, IN, where the men were eventually arrested.

Police say that stores began to get wind of a problem in late December, but they believe the scheme had been going on for some time.

“These three individuals had been doing this on a daily basis since the beginning of November,” says the detective.

The suspects say the purpose of the scam was to fund their addictions.

“They admitted that they did have a drug issue and this is why they were doing it,” explains the detective, labeling one of the shoplifters “one of the most honest criminals I’ve ever spoken to in my life.”

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.