Woman Swaps Bar Codes At Walmart, Pays $3 For Computer

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A Florida woman has been arrested after police say she switched barcodes on items at Walmart, allowing her to pay $3.70 for electronics worth more than $1,800.

Cheyenne Amber West, 25, was charged with felony grand theft and felony shoplifting, according to the TC Palm. 

West and another woman were caught when a Walmart loss prevention officer noticed them taking a computer, video game controllers, and other items from the electronics department on Nov. 6. 

The pair covered the bar codes on the items with stickers taken from items in the clearance section. Then, they went through self-checkout and paid $3.70, $1,821 less than the actual price of the items. 

"I am just trying to get gifts for my son that I cannot afford," West told police after her arrest. "The computer is for my husband. Since he got me a Coach purse, I figured he deserved something nice, as well." 

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She is currently being held on a $3,000 bond. The other woman was not charged. 

Although West's attempted bar code scam sounds ambitious, it was tiny compared to some historic scams. 

In 2005, police busted two couples who had been working together to swap bar codes on Walmart items for 10 years. When they were arrested, police estimated they had stolen $1.5 million from Walmart stores in 19 states, according to The Associated Press. 

The group printed bar codes for less expensive products at home and then placed them over the bar codes in stores.

Once they had bought the items for reduced price, the group would sell them for a profit or return them to Walmart for a full-price refund.

In a more recent scam, two California men were caught in 2012 printing their own bar codes to buy Legos from Target at a reduced price, according to CNET. 

The two men were not accomplices and were engaged in the same crime by coincidence. 

One of the men, a millionaire executive at a Silicon Valley software company, sold his ill-gotten Legos on eBay, making about $30,000 profit in one year, reports Wired. 

"This probably happens more often than you'd think. But this is the first time we've ever had a case like this," Mountain View police spokeswoman Liz Wylie told KNTV in 2012.

The former executive, Thomas Langenbach, pleaded guilty to one count of felony burglary and was eventually sentenced to one month in prison followed by five months of house arrest. After being released, Langenbach spent three years on probation. 

Sources: TC Palm, AP via CBS News, CNET, KNTV, Wired / Featured Image: Mike Mozart/Flickr / Embedded Images: Indian River County Sheriff's Office via TC Palm, Klaus-Dieter Keller/Wikimedia Commons

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