I don’t know if this guy is a genius or if Home Depot is just really stupid. Probably both.
A Connecticut thief racked up nearly $300,000 worth of store credit at Home Depot purely by pretending to return items he never purchased to begin with.
According to federal prosecution, Alexandre Henrique Costa-Mota from West Hartford, CT developed a scheme where he would enter Home Depot, grab a full-size door, and return it to the service department. As Costa-Mota obviously never had a receipt, he would exchange the doors for store credit.
During a nine month period, Costa-Mota traveled to Home Depots in eight different states and enacted his scheme about 370 times. In sum, Costa-Mota built up a store credit worth $297,332.
Costa-Mota’s scheme came to an end in February 2022 after a failed attempt in Rhode Island. His trial has just begun this week on Wednesday. Costa-Mota faces charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Despite what you may think, Home Depot says they do have security systems in place to counteract these potential schemes. According to Home Depot’s own website, “we require a valid driver’s license or government-issued photo identification for non-receipted returns and returns generated from purchases made with store credits. The Home Depot uses a third-party refund verification system. All returns are subject to verification system approval.”
However, Costa-Mota had been aware of these systems all along and came prepared. During his scheme, Costa-Mota allegedly used several different fake IDs and other forms of identification to bypass the verification process.
Here’s my question. In the Home Depot system, could the customer service workers in charge of returns not see the item’s original purchase date? I understand you can’t require customers to keep receipts in this day and age. I get that and as a consumer I’m glad that’s not a thing anymore. However, you’d have to assume the person handing out store credit should be able to check when the item was actually purchased. I mean, this scheme could have been pulled off by a 4th grader with that logic.
I have another question, actually. What does one do with $300,000 worth of Home Depot credit? It’s not like you can buy an actual home there. What’s he gonna do? Buy a ton of shovels and resell them? That’s not very lucrative. At that point you’re better off playing Gary Vee and looking for hidden gems at yard sales.
I guess it doesn’t matter anyway since Costa-Mota will probably end up in jail. I do think it would be funny to see what happens to him in there. Imagine him showing up and his cellmate is like “I committed a triple homicide, what’d you do?” Then he needs to explain how he illegally got a ton of screws and wheelbarrows for free. That’s not very thug of him. If I were him, I’d probably lie and just go with murder. It’s a classic, never fails.