Police in Arizona have uncovered a massive scheme by a single 23-year old man to defraud Walmart of nearly $1.3 million dollars.
Cops in Yuma, Arizona closed in on Thomas Frudaker on Wednesday afternoon. They thought they were just going to be busting an ordinary perp for a case of the ol’ fraudulent return.
Indeed, the suspect in the case, Frudaker, had apparently brought back a computer to a Walmart after having taken out some of the computer’s parts before putting it back into the box. Retail thieves commonly pull scams like this, removing the most valuable parts of a computer, the graphics card, the CPU, sometimes even the hard-drive, and then bringing it back to get a refund.
Then they sell the spare parts and make a handy profit.
But usually, retail thieves aren’t pulling off crimes on the same scale as this guy was.
After digging into Frudaker’s background a little more, investigators discovered that he had done the same thing at a different Walmart earlier that day. And, in fact, he had apparently pulled off the same scheme at more than a thousand different Walmart stores across the country in only the last 18 months.
When you do the math on that, and assuming he wasn’t working on weekends, that means Frudaker had to have hit at least two different Walmarts every day over that period. In fact, he would have been hitting an average of about 2.7 Walmarts per day. So, most days he probably hit three different Walmarts instead of a mere two.
That means that this guy got so good at buying Walmart computers, cracking them open, stripping their valuable parts, reboxing them, and returning them to the store, that he was proabably able to do it at least three times in one day at three separate Walmart locations.
I mean, that’s dedication right there. Dedication to an absolutely stupid plan, but still. Dedication.
And Frudaker’s efforts certainly paid off. Yuma police have said that his thieving cost Walmart “approximately” $1.3 million over the last 18 months. He’s being charged with six felonies, including two counts of theft, two counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices, and two counts of criminal damage.
So when anti-shoplifting PSAs tell you that “shoplifting raises prices for everyone!” they’re probably not kidding. If this one guy, apparently working alone, could do $1.3 million in damage to Walmart’s bottom line, imagine what they must lose every year in stolen goods alone?
In fact, don’t imagine it. Because we know that number, Walmart reports it.
And it’s about $3 billion every single year.