Fort Worth police investigate return merchandise fraud

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on January 15, 2014 at 8:29 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 15 at 8:40 PM

MANSFIELD — A parolee is back behind bars for a suspected theft scheme involving returns at The Home Depot.

According to a Fort Worth police report, a man walked into the Home Depot at Interstate 35W and Basswood Boulevard and went to a cart someone had left full of merchandise. He then showed receipts to exchange the merchandise for a $145 store credit or gift card.

He also allegedly tried to leave with paint he did not pay for.

"I didn’t take nothing out of the store," 47-year-old James White told News 8 from jail in Mansfield. He is charged with theft. Security detained him during the incident in December.

According to the police report, an employee told investigators the store is having trouble with people digging receipts out of the trash and using them to claim phony refund credits.

White said there was no scheme, and that he didn’t steal anything. He said a relative gave him the receipts and asked him to make the exchange for him because the man didn't have a valid ID.

James White has a long history of arrests on various charges. He got out of prison in March after serving time for theft.

Stephen Holmes, a corporate spokesman for The Home Depot, said he has heard of people using trashed receipts in an effort to claim false refunds. He said The Home Depot is among many retailers who now track returns to deter fraud.

According to the National Retail Federation, refund fraud accounts for $8.9 billion of losses per year.

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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