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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Georgia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, December 18, 2014

Members Of Fraud Ring Sentenced To Federal Prison For Stealing From The Home Depot

ATLANTA - Robert Lee Hatcher III, Willie Dewayne Lynch, Andrew Oliver, and Arthur James Freeman have been convicted and sentenced for defrauding and conspiring to defraud The Home Depot, Inc. 

“These defendants executed a long-term, sophisticated scam to defraud The Home Depot out of more than $600,000,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates.  “Security measures at The Home Depot helped uncover and stop this scheme before they could steal more.  This case should remind those who believe they have concocted the perfect scam that they will be caught.”   

“The U.S. Secret Service and our law enforcement partners work tirelessly to protect our nation’s electronic financial payment systems,” said Reginald G. Moore, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Atlanta Field Office.  “This sentence should serve as a reminder that criminals will not get away with using Point of Sale terminals to fund their criminal activity.”

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 merchandise for purchase.  Prior to purchasing the merchandise, they covered the UPC labels on high-priced items with UPC labels they removed from lower-priced items – a practice commonly called “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.  Next, the defendants returned the fraudulently purchased merchandise to Home Depot stores and obtained refund cards in the amounts of the actual (and higher) price of the merchandise.  Hatcher, Lynch, and Oliver then sold the refund cards to Freeman in exchange for cash at 60% of the actual value contained on the refund cards. Thereafter, Freeman used the fraudulently obtained refund cards to buy merchandise at Home Depot stores, which he used to stock two retail stores that he owned and operated in Atlanta, Ga., known as “Bargain Wholesale.”

  •             On October 28, 2014, Robert Lee Hatcher III, 32, of Atlanta, Ga., was sentenced to five years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $647,391.02 in restitution.
  •             On October 28, 2014, Willie Dewayne Lynch, 30, of Atlanta, Ga., was sentenced to three years, nine months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $647,391.02 in restitution.
  •             On October 6, 2014, Andrew Oliver, 62, of Stone Mountain, Ga., was sentenced to three years, four months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $86,858.46 in restitution.
  •             Finally, on December 18, 2014, Arthur James Freeman, 54, of Atlanta, Ga., was sentenced to six months in prison, eight months of home confinement, followed by three months of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $113,527.50 in restitution.

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

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

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/.

Updated April 8, 2015