Man accused of conning Home Depot out of $300,000 with door-return scam
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Federal prosecutors say an American man is accused of defrauding Home Depot of nearly $300,000 (£230,500) in store credit.
Official documents allege that Alexandre Henrique Costa-Mota, 26, would pose as a contractor so that he could collect doors from Home Depot stores.
Later, he would allegedly return and attempt to get a ‘refund’ without a receipt. In exchange, he would often be given store credit.
As per court reports, Costa-Mota apparently applied this technique across eight states and 61 individual stores between June 2021 and February 2022.
Prosecutors stated that the 26-year-old would enter into Home Depot stores 'dressed to appear like a contractor', and had a ‘measuring tape clipped to his pants’.
Officials also said that in-store CCTV cameras showed that the Connecticut native always wore ‘the same pair of shoes and had a gold watch on his left wrist’ while completing the refund scheme.
Insider reports that a Secret Service agent who investigated the case said that Costa-Mota would first collect the items and then proceed to load them onto a lumber cart.
Then, he would bring them back into the store, head to the service department, and attempt to get a refund.
The agent said that he often succeeded in the fraud by using fake driver’s licenses, or fraudulent identification cards containing made-up names, facts and figures.
Documents said: “At times, when the stores refused to accept the receiptless returns, Costa-Mota simply exited the stores with the Anderson doors without paying for them.”
He’d then would apparently head over to another Home Depot branch, repeat the process, and try his luck there instead.
It’s reported that the 26-year-old travelled to outlets in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine to complete fraudulent transactions. Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey were also apparently on his hit list.
Prosecutors claimed some of the stolen doors were valued between $350-$400 (£274-£313) which earned Costa-Morta 370 store credits over the nine-month period.
As per officials, this is estimated to be worth $297,332 (£233,200).
After receiving the store credit, he would allegedly redeem it at other Home Depot stores, mainly across Connecticut and other neighbouring states.
On July 26, 2023, a federal grand jury in Providence charged Costa-Mota with wire fraud and conspiracy.
The American was arraigned before a United States Magistrate Judge on August 1 and was detained without bail.
However, documents note that the federal criminal indictment is ‘merely an accusation’.
“A defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.”