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Rip-Off Alert: Brazen thieves stay ahead of big business

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 9/10/2013 5:56 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV -- Two thieves who used their real names managed to rip off almost two dozen popular discount stores in Detroit. How they pulled this off is the focus of today's Rip-Off Alert.

They filled out credit application forms at a Sam’s Club using the names of legitimate businesses and included themselves as users on the account.

They had photos taken of themselves and used their actual names and personal information.

“The most unique thing is essentially how stupid the bad guys were,” said U.S. Postal Inspector Carla Menendez.

The suspects bought such high-ticket items as TVs, laptops and iPads -- then sold them.

Postal inspectors say it wasn’t hard to catch up with this duo once Sam’s Club fraud investigators tipped them off.

“Going in and allowing their own picture taken in a Sam’s Club, allowing their own personal information to open these accounts, thinking they are just going to get away with it,” Menendez said.

The suspect did get away with it for a little while; that time gap is exactly what the suspects counted on.

They would usually use an account for two weeks -- then move on.

“Most of these businesses were very large businesses,” Menendez said. “Therefore, (the suspects) make a lot of money and a lot of purchases.”

There were 21 companies affected and tens of thousands of dollars in losses. Inspectors say most of the companies were unaware of the charges.

“Purchasing a computer, laptop is related to their business and wouldn’t make them question it unless someone brought it to their attention,” Menendez said.

Inspectors say their advice to businesses applies to everyone: Always check bank statements, and check your credit every year.

Both suspects in this case were sentenced to 12 to 15 months in prison.

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