News and Press Releases

Four Defendants Charged in Wire Fraud Conspiracy

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 25, 2014

ATLANTA - Robert Lee Hatcher III, Willie Dewayne Lynch, Andrew Oliver, and Arthur James Freeman have been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of defrauding and conspiring to defraud Home Depot. 

“These defendants are charged with participating in a scheme to defraud Home Depot over a period of several years, in ten states that span as far north as Kentucky and North Carolina, all the way south to Florida and west to Texas,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. 

“The Secret Service has established a long history of protecting the American consumer and private industry from various types of prepaid and credit card fraud. This case illustrates not just the significance of an aggressive and cutting edge approach to combat this type of fraud, but also illustrates the importance of partnerships with state and local law enforcement agencies in protecting our nation’s electronic financial payment systems,” said Reginald Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service in Atlanta.

According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court:  Beginning in at least January 2011, Hatcher, Lynch, and Oliver entered Home Depot stores in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, and selected items for purchase.  Prior to purchasing the items, they covered the UPC labels on high-priced merchandise with UPC labels they removed from lower-priced merchandise, a practice known as “ticket-switching.”  The defendants then took the merchandise to a sales terminal, where they purchased it for the lower price. 

After fraudulently purchasing the merchandise, Hatcher, Lynch, and Oliver removed the lower-priced UPC label, revealing the original, higher-priced UPC label.  Hatcher, Lynch, and Oliver then returned the fraudulently purchased merchandise to Home Depot without a receipt, in order to obtain refund credit cards in the amount of the actual, and higher, retail price of the merchandise.  Hatcher, Lynch, and Oliver then sold the refund credit cards to Freeman in exchange for cash in an amount less than the face value of the refund credit cards.  Defendant Freeman used the fraudulently obtained refund credit cards to purchase merchandise from Home Depot, which he used to stock inventory in two retail stores that he owns and operates in Atlanta, Ga., known as “Bargain Wholesale.”

Robert Lee Hatcher III, 31, of Atlanta, Ga., Willie Dewayne Lynch, 29, of Atlanta, Ga., have been arraigned before U.S. Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand.  Arthur James Freeman, 53, of Atlanta, Ga., is scheduled to be arraigned on Friday April 25, 2014, before Judge Anand.  Andrew Oliver, 61, of Stone Mountain, Ga., is still at large.

This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the United States Secret Service, with the assistance of criminal investigators from the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, the Gwinnett County Police Department, the Woodstock Police Department, the Atlanta Police Department, and Corporate Investigators with The Home Depot, Inc.

Assistant United States Attorneys Teresa D. Hoyt and Jeffrey W. Davis are prosecuting the case.

Members of the public are reminded that the indictment contains only allegations.  A defendant is presumed innocent of the charges and it will be the government's burden to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016.  The Internet address for the home page for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao/gan/.

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