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Georgia Couple Charged with Scheme to Defraud Staples

A couple from Alpharetta, GA was charged Friday in U.S. District Court in Boston in connection with a scheme to defraud Framingham-based Staples, Inc. of more then $1.4 million.

John Douglas, 46, was charged in an Information with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud. His wife, Analyn Douglas, 41, was separately charged in an Information with conspiracy to ship stolen goods in interstate commerce.

According to the Information, the Douglases and others engaged in a complex scheme to defraud Stapes of more than $1.4 million worth of customer loyalty rewards and product rebates. John Douglas and one of his associates created more than 1,100 Staples rewards accounts, often using fictitious names, addresses, and contact information. He then created a computer script to query a Staples web site and seek unclaimed customer loyalty rewards for purchases that he did not make. The computer script made thousands of queries a day, amassing more then $889,000 worth of rewards in small increments., often less than a dollar at a time. The Douglases and others then used the rewards like cash to buy merchandise at Staples retail locations throughout the southern United States and along the eastern seaboard, as far north as Massachusetts. Analyn Douglas sold much of the fraudulently obtained Staples merchandise on eBay.

In addition, the Douglases and the associate allegedly used a similar method to claim more than $527,000 in cash rebates from Staples for products that they did not purchase.

Staples discovered the fraud and referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and tbe United States Attorney’s Office for investigation. Staples has cooperated with the government’s investigation.