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Brothers face federal fraud charges for altering bar codes

Many residents of Calcasieu, Louisiana, prefer to make their purchases online not only for the special promotions but also to get a discount. With the possibility of getting a better deal, many consumers are not aware that the products they are buying could have been acquired illegally.

Two brothers are facing white collar crime charges for wire fraud and mail fraud after authorities arrested them recently. The U.S. Secret Service stated that the men switched the bar codes of products from Home Depot in a minimum of 20 states, including Louisiana, to buy the products at a lower price and sell them online at a profit. The agency remarked that the brothers may have defrauded the home improvement retailer of at least $1.3 million.

The charges alleged that the men were responsible for switching the Universal Product Codes which, when scanned, specify the price of the product. After purchasing the product at a lower price, the brothers allegedly sold the merchandise through eBay, an online auction website. According to the criminal complaint, the brothers performed the questionable transactions between 2007 and 2011.

A judge set bail at $25,000 for each brother and placed them both under house arrest, which means they have to be at home whenever they are not at work or in the courtroom. A grand jury was assigned to hear the case in September. Home Depot is currently working with investigators.

Fraud, especially if it involves significant amounts of money, can carry stiff penalties and a long jail sentence. If a person is charged with a white collar crime, his or her reputation may become tarnished. Here in Louisiana, to ascertain that the defendant has a chance to prove his or her innocence or reduce penalties, it is ideal to seek the help of a legal professional.

Source: mySanAntonio.com, "Pair charged with wire, mail fraud in buying plot," Brett Barrouquere, Aug. 23, 2013

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