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Rip-Off Alert: Distribution center thefts lead to eBay ring

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 10/24/2013 6:44 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3.com) -- Counterfeit items are one problem, but people looking to turn a quick buck by stealing is another.

In Kentucky, a group of scam artists stole hundreds of high-end apparel bags. In this Rip-Off Alert, the scam continued on eBay, and that move was the beginning of the end.

Melissa Maxwell works for the company that distributes the fashionable LeSportsac brand of high-end purses and travel accessories.

But it’s not all glamorous -- the firm's distribution center was robbed and then caught in the middle of an online scam involving its merchandise.

“Of course you feel violated. You feel angry,” Maxwell said.

“When they first started, they were just taking one or two from each box,” said Sheriff Gus Skinner, “and by doing that, it was really not showing up on radar that things were really missing.”

Police say the thieves then became brazen.

“And some of the people who worked in shipping came into my office and said all the boxes were empty, and there was stuff all over the floor,” Maxwell said. “So that’s how we discovered it.”

More than 200 bags were stolen, costing the company more than $50,000 in sales. From the beginning, authorities suspected it was an inside job.

“We knew they had worked at LeSportsac – and one of them had a brother – so we knew they had an inside connection,” Skinner said.

Then officials realized the stolen goods were being sold on eBay.

“One of the key pieces of evidence we had against them was that they were selling these purses on eBay that hadn’t even been released yet,” Skinner said. “So we knew they had to be stolen from the distribution center because they hadn’t even gone on the market yet.”

That’s when postal inspectors got involved. They were able to track the goods back to several people. Nine individuals were arrested in connection with the case.

Police say when you’re buying online, be careful.

“When you start trying to buy stuff off of eBay the first thing you should look at the ratings, to see what type of ratings they have,” Skinner said. “See how long they have been in business. If they just opened something up, be very wary of that.”

New security measures are now in place at the distribution center, and Maxwell says they will be extra cautious when hiring new employees.

“You really just can‘t trust anyone,” Maxwell said.
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