Prosecutors say Indiana man used eBay to become a ‘millionaire shoplifter’

Posted at 5:48 PM, Aug 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-20 17:48:51-04

HAMILTON Co., Ind. -- Court documents explain how police say an Indianapolis man ran a million-dollar shoplifting scam.

Hamilton County prosecutors say the crimes spanned several counties and had been going on for years.

Police believe the suspect, Ryan Walker, would swap UPC bar codes on high-dollar items at stores like Target and Walmart.

After paying pennies on the dollar, Walker would allegedly turn around and sell those same items on eBay for significantly more than he paid.

In one example, the accused thief walked to the toy aisle at the Target on Michigan road in Carmel and picked up a Lego Star Wars set worth $169. Police say Walker slapped a fake bar code on the box and checked out for just over $20.

Police claim that crime was duplicated countless times spanning nearly a decade at Target and Walmart stores in Carmel, Fishers, Avon and Plainfield, allowing Walker to pocket over $1 million.

In another example of how the scam worked, prosecutors claim Walker bought a $200 electric toothbrush at Walmart, but used a fake UPC code to pay just $24.97.

Police say Walker sold the model on eBay for $122.50, profiting $97.53 from just that one sale.

Related: Teen caught shoplifting just minutes after being released from jail for shoplifting

The affidavit shows Walker's eBay account received in excess of $1.1 million since it was created in 2010.

From March 2018 to March of this year, prosecutors believe Walker sold 302 sewing/cutting machines, 285 electric toothbrushes, 233 Lego sets and much more.

After several months of investigating, police searched a storage unit they claim Walker rented as well as his home. Court documents say officers found dozens of stolen items with fraudulent UPC codes taped to the boxes.

Walker remains behind bars in the Hamilton County Jail, facing a variety of criminal charges.

Before his arrest, prosecutors say Walker had seven active warrants from four different counties for similar crimes.