A Bloomfield man admitted Thursday to his role in defrauding Home
Depot Inc. out of more than $470,000 through an elaborate double-dipping scam, U.S.
Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Daniel Chalet, 28, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud before U.S. Magistrate Judge James B. Clark III.
Chalet and his conspirators placed duplicate items into two shopping carts at Home Depots in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Pennsylvania between March 2009 and June 2012 and would pay for only one cart and return the duplicate items for a refund, according to court documents.
Chalet and his crew would fill two shopping carts with identical items, hide one cart in the store and pay for the items in the second cart. They would typically purchase the items in the first cart with cash, fraudulently obtained Home Depot store credit or a combination of the two. Chalet and his conspirators would then leave the store with the items in the first cart, and the receipt for the purchase, leaving the second cart in the store.
The conspirators would return to the store almost immediately with a receipt corresponding to the items in the first cart and retrieve the second cart, which contained the duplicated items, under the guise that they had forgotten to purchase an item, usually an inexpensive one.
Chalet and his conspirators would return to the register with the second cart, and purchase only the additional small item. They would present the receipt for the items from the first cart and deceive the cashier into believing the items in the second cart had already been purchased.
Chalet and his crew would return the items to the same Home Depot store or go to different Home Depot locations to return them. In some instances, they presented a receipt for the return, and in other instances, the defendants obtained a refund for store credit without a receipt.
Prosecutors said Chalet and his conspirators carried out the scheme hundreds of times at various Home Depot locations, fraudulently obtaining store credit and refunds totaling at least $470,511.66.
The conspiracy count that Chalet pleaded guilty to is punishable by a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 15.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the U.S. Secret Service, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James Mottola, for the investigation leading to the guilty plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lakshmi Srinivasan Herman of the U.S. Attorney’s Office Economic Crimes Unit in Newark represented the government in the case.