Man Pleads Guilty to Possessing Numerous Unauthorized Access Devices to Obtain Merchandise
BUFFALO, N.Y.–U.S. Attorney William J. Hochul, Jr. announced today that Luis Alcalar Vasquez, a/k/a Noberto DeRivas, a/k/a Abraham Rivas-Rios, 43, of Texas and Mexico, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Court Judge Richard J. Arcara to possession of 15 or more unauthorized access devices. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Marie P. Grisanti, who is handling the case, stated that between November 2012 and March 2013, the defendant obtained high-end merchandise at various Home Depot stores in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and New York by scanning bar codes for lower ticketed items at self check-out stations. Vasquez scanned the bar codes for the lower cost items but took the more expensive items out of the stores. For example, the defendant scanned the bar code for a sink priced at $59.95 but actually left the store with a sink costing $444.79. Vazquez then returned the higher ticketed merchandise to another Home Depot location in exchange for stored value cards.
By early March, 2013, Home Depot became aware that the “ticket-switch” and refund transactions were being executed at stores in Western New York. On March 7, 2013, at stores in West Seneca, Buffalo, and Cheektowaga, sinks costing $444.79 were exchanged for stored value cards in that amount.
Later on March 7, at Home Depot’s store in Lockport, the defendant tried to use a California driver’s license bearing his picture but a different name, in order to return merchandise valued at $700.55. However, Home Depot personnel stopped the transaction and called Niagara County Sheriff’s Office deputies to the Lockport store, where they took the defendant into custody. Niagara County Sheriff’s Office investigators found Vasquez had 20 false California drivers licenses in three different names but all bearing the defendant’s picture, and 17 Home Depot stored value cards worth approximately $5,910. Two cell phones with bar codes taped to their backs were found on the defendant.
The total value of the merchandise the defendant obtained from The Home Depot stores was $77,577.90.
The plea is the culmination of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and investigators of the Niagara County Sheriff’s Department, under the direction of Niagara County Sheriff James Voutour.Sentencing is scheduled for March 4, at 12:30 p.m. before Judge Arcara.