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Press Release

Man Sentenced To 45 Months In Prison On Wire Fraud Charges For Fraudulent Refund Scheme

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

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Robert Michael Milton, 51, of Blacksburg, S.C., was sentenced yesterday on wire fraud charges and was ordered to serve 45 months in prison for committing a 29-month fraudulent refund scheme targeting Walmart stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  In addition to the prison term, Chief U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney also ordered Milton to serve two years of supervised release. 

U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by Nick Annan, Special Agent in Charge of ICE/Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Georgia and the Carolinas.

According to filed court documents and yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Milton engaged in the fraudulent scheme from December 2010 to April 2013.  Court records show that Milton manufactured counterfeit Walmart paper sales receipts to appear substantially similar to previously-issued genuine Walmart paper sales receipts that Milton obtained when he purchased one or more prepaid debit cards totaling from $500 to $1,000.  Court records show that, using transaction numbers from the original Walmart store receipts, Milton printed counterfeit Walmart receipts that replaced the actual purchased products associated with the transaction codes with UPC-barcodes and descriptions of substituted counterfeit Microsoft software and counterfeit DVDs.  Court records show that Milton took advantage of a glitch in Walmart’s system, which the company has since fixed, and used the counterfeit Walmart receipts and counterfeit software and DVDs to get full refunds for the retail price of the original transaction.    In addition to using counterfeit software and DVDs, Milton also used low-priced fishing rods and reels affixed with barcodes for high-priced fishing rods and reels to obtain fraudulent refunds. 

According to court records, Milton targeted and obtained fraudulent refunds from numerous Walmart stores in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, as reflected in a Walmart Store Atlas seized from Milton’s warehouse.  Court records show that Milton’s warehouse contained thermal receipt printers, a barcode reader, 85 fake driver’s licenses for Ohio, South Carolina and Nebraska, and 1,600 counterfeit holograms for Ohio driver’s licenses.  Milton’s warehouse also contained a Mapquest printout that mapped out a 786-mile, two-day Georgia road trip with 70 waypoints associated with Walmart stores.  

At Milton’s sentencing, the government introduced published National Retail Federation reports that estimated the “amount of fraudulent returns” in the retail industry ranged from $9.1 billion to $14.3 billion during the time period from 2010 through 2013.  According to court records, the combined losses were estimated at approximately $400,000 for fraudulent refunds paid to Milton and the value of seized counterfeit software and seized DVDs Milton used in his fraudulent refund wire fraud scheme. Milton pleaded guilty to a wire fraud charge in July 2014.

Milton has been in custody since his arrest in April 2013, and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.  All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole. 

The investigation was handled by the HSI.  The prosecution for the government was handled by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas O’Malley of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte.

Updated February 26, 2016