A couple in New Jersey tried to take advantage of a website glitch to get more than $258,000 worth of goods from well-known home improvement store Lowe’s. Their attempt included merchandise such as a gazebo, air conditioner, and a stainless steel grill. In the end, the couple only succeeded in securing nearly $13, 000 worth of merchandise after exploiting “weaknesses” in the company’s website.
They also had the items shipped to their home in Brick for free according to the report from the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office. Unfortunately for them, the couple didn’t get away with the crime and 24-year-old Romela Velazquez was arrested and charged with theft by computer criminal activity and deception for accessing a computer system with the intent of fraud. Her husband, 40-year-old Kimy Velazquez was charged with third-degree receipt of stolen property and fencing for his role in the scheme.
The couple had also tried to sell some of the items to make a profit, using a local Facebook “buy and sell” group for half of the original sale price and listing the items as “new”. The prosecutor’s office launched an official investigation after a Lowe’s retail crime manager told the police that the couple was exploiting the website on purpose. The report does not detail how the couple used the website to do this.
On August 3, detectives searched the Velazquez’s home and noted that it looked more like a warehouse than anything else. They seized enough stolen merchandise to fill an 18-foot trailer according to the report. The investigation is continuing to see if the couple has targeted any other retailers in the same scheme. Several products were still found in the box or with tags still attached, obviously for resale value. Police arrested the couple after the search and the couple has since been released from jail. They are currently waiting on a court date.
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