PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — A Connecticut man was given nearly $300,000 in fraudulent Home Depot credit by walking into stores in several states, taking expensive doors, and then returning them without a receipt, federal prosecutors allege.
Alexandre Henrique Costa-Mota, 26, of West Hartford, Connecticut, was detained without bail after a judge entered not-guilty pleas on his behalf this week in a Rhode Island federal court. Costa-Mota is facing charges of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office in Providence said in a statement Wednesday.
An email seeking comment was left with Costa-Mota’s attorney.
Costa-Mota dressed to appear like a contractor and entered the stores empty-handed, prosecutors allege in court documents. He would then load a door or several doors, worth hundreds of dollars each, onto a lumber cart, then take them to the service department and return them without a receipt, authorities said.
He was given a store credit in the form of cards that he later redeemed at other stores, prosecutors said.
If the return was denied, he would take the doors without paying and return them at another store, prosecutors said.
Home Depot stores in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey were involved. Costa-Mota was given about 370 fraudulent store credits between June 2021 and February 2022, prosecutors said.
Home Depot’s policy is to allow customers to return items without a receipt, but the home improvement chain has safeguards in place that are supposed to prevent people from taking advantage, including asking for identification that requires third-party verification, according to court documents.
In this case, the defendant apparently used his own driver’s license once, then used several fraudulent licenses with other names, to conduct the other returns, court records say.
According to Home Depot’s website, “We require a valid driver’s license or government-issued photo identification for non-receipted returns and returns generated from purchases made with store credits. The Home Depot uses a third-party refund verification system. All returns are subject to verification system approval.”
A voicemail and an email seeking comment were left with Home Depot.