Can I Get in Trouble for Making Fraudulent Returns to California Stores?

Posted on Tuesday, July 31st, 2018 at 10:54 am    

Almost anywhere you go in the United States, shopping is part of the culture. With so much commerce occurring on a day-to-day basis, it’s only natural that some people receive items that are not in the condition they expected. In such circumstances, returns are normal and expected. Recently, however, a situation arose highlighting the fact that returns can cause more issues than you might think. A 23-year-old man faces six felony charges for making fraudulent returns at Walmart. According to KSWT, a CNN affiliate, Thomas Frudaker conducted the questionable transactions at over 1,000 Walmarts in the last 18 months.

The laws that govern fraud are complex. A Los Angeles fraud defense attorney can keep an honest misunderstanding from turning into a criminal charge. If you’re facing a fraud investigation in the Los Angeles area, contact Spolin Law P.C. today. Our lawyers understand how fraud cases progress, and will be able to help you throughout every step of the way.

Call (310) 424-5816, or fill out our online form today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Missing Parts Raise Concern Over Returns

Frudaker attracted suspicion when he attempted to return a computer in Yuma, Arizona. Parts were apparently missing from the machine, prompting authorities to look into Frudaker’s purchasing habits. It was discovered that, over the last year and a half, he had made similar returns at over 1,000 Walmarts across the United States.

For making roughly 1.3 million dollars worth of false returns, Frudaker faces six felony charges. Among his counts are theft, fraudulent schemes, and criminal damage. His bail was set at $40,000.

Return Fraud is Theft in California

California Penal Code defines theft as taking something, intentionally and unlawfully, with the intent to deprive the true owner of its use or enjoyment. If you obtain property that isn’t yours through false pretenses, falsity, or through other means of deceit, you have committed theft by fraud. Some common examples of return fraud are:

  • Returning an item you know to be stolen, by yourself or someone else, for money or store credit
  • Forging a receipt to show you purchased an item that you did not
  • Forging a receipt to show you purchased an item for more than you actually paid
  • Returning an item to a different store for more than you originally purchased it for
  • Acquiring an item at a store and returning it before purchasing it

Return fraud can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony in California. What specific charge you face depends on the value of what you attempted to return. Penalties for return fraud range from one to three years in prison, as well as fines between one and ten thousand dollars.

Facing Charges for Fraudulent Returns? Call Us Today for Help

Being found guilty of return fraud hinges largely on intent. In order for a theft crime to be proven, it must be shown that you both knew and intended to return something you did not purchase. Whether you intentionally and knowingly did something depends on a wide range of factors. It’s possible that not all these factors have been considered in your case.

A skilled fraud attorney will be able to weigh all these factors while putting together your defense. If you’re facing a fraud investigation in the Los Angeles area, your first call should be to Spolin Law P.C.. Whatever your case is, our lawyers have the experience to provide you with a comprehensive defense.

Call (310) 424-5816 or use our online form to schedule a free, initial case evaluation.