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Press Release

Final Defendant Sentenced To 12 Years In Prison For Leading Nationwide Wire Fraud Conspiracy Targeting Walmart

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Michigan

          GRAND RAPIDS, MICHIGAN — U.S. Attorney Mark Totten announced today that the last of seven defendants was sentenced for a retail theft and wire fraud scheme they executed at hundreds of Walmart stores in 38 states. U.S. District Judge Robert J. Jonker sentenced the leader of the conspiracy, Adarius Ferguson, of Benton Harbor, to 144 months in prison. “This sentence marks the end of rampant crime sprees by six men who stole from and conducted fraudulent returns at over 300 Walmart stores across the nation,” said U.S. Attorney Mark Totten.

          The seven men sentenced as part of this scheme are:





Adarius Ferguson

Benton Harbor


144 months

Christopher Campbell

Benton Harbor


30 months

Joshawn Wilson

Benton Harbor


24 months

Jaylen Sulton

Benton Harbor


27 months

Tipton Lamar Walker

Benton Harbor


18 months

Marquis Davis

Benton Harbor


30 months

Elisha Vary

Jackson, MI


41 months

          As part of the conspiracy, the codefendants stole high-priced electronics, such as internet routers, Apple products, and iRobot vacuums, from Walmart stores. They also purchased high-priced electronic goods matching those that were stolen. Using a variety of means, they altered the Walmart receipts from purchased goods and used them to conduct returns of both the stolen goods and the purchased goods, effectively getting double the return value for each item they purchased as part of the scheme. The group stole over $275,000 in Walmart electronics and conducted fraudulent returns in excess of $400,000.

          “Brazen is exactly the way to describe what happened. People just piling up electronic equipment and walking out the front door, with the goal of going back in to ‘return’ the product,” said Judge Jonker. In discussing the broader implications of the fraud scheme, Judge Jonker explained, “It isn’t just Walmart. It’s the whole community. It’s all of the people that go to Walmart to buy things that now have to pay more for things because Walmart has to pay for the theft, somehow. . . . Stealing money without violence is still theft, it’s still serious, and it’s still something that people need to be accountable for.”

          “This crime not only affected a major retailer, it affected the lives of hundreds of Walmart employees. Some store associates had Walmart keys stolen from their hands as they opened electronic cases for the defendants. Others had their vests, name tags, and store radios stolen. One associate required emergency medical treatment after being assaulted during a theft. And countless Walmart employees were pressured by Adarius Ferguson while he made fraudulent returns.” U.S. Attorney Mark Totten explained. “My office is committed to intercepting and incapacitating fraudsters who threaten the integrity and safety of our communities and effectively raise the cost of goods for all consumers.”

          The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Michigan State Police partnered in the investigation, with support from dozens of law enforcement agencies across the country that investigated thefts and fraudulent returns at Walmart stores in their respective jurisdictions. “The crimes committed by Ferguson and his codefendants were not “victimless” thefts from a retail store. In addition to the financial loss to the store, these defendants created trauma to the victim salesclerks,” said James A. Tarasca, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI in Michigan. “Today’s conclusion of this investigation serves as a reminder to those who engage in a criminal enterprise that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will work together with the private sector to find you and bring you to justice.”

          Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kate Zell and Adam Townshend prosecuted the case.             


Updated December 20, 2022

Financial Fraud