Secret Service agents are rounding up suspects today in a high-tech scam at Home Depot and Lowe's stores throughout the South in which thieves have defrauded the home improvement giants of $150,000 in merchandise.
Authorities say that for the last year, a band of thieves have been creating counterfeited bar codes and affixing them to high-end rugs at Home Depot and Lowe's stores in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina.
The suspects would then proceed through the checkout lines and walk away with rugs worth hundreds of dollars for $29 each.
Investigators say the thieves would return the rugs at other Home Depot and Lowe's stores for a refund. In Home Depot's case, the store routinely gives vouchers for a store credit in the amount of the item rather than a cash refund. So, the thieves would take the vouchers and sell them on e-Bay.
Federal prosecutors and Secret Service officials plan to release more information this afternoon.