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State News

August 24, 2013

Pair charged with wire, mail fraud in buying plot

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Two men have been charged with switching bar codes on items at Home Depot stores in at least 20 states, buying items on the cheap and selling them for profit online.

David and Carson Cameron Vevay, Ind., face federal charges of mail fraud and wire fraud. In two criminal complaints, the U.S. Secret Service said the turned a profit off merchandise from Home Depot stores around the country over a four-year period, potentially defrauding the retail chain of more than $1.3 million.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin ordered the Cameron brothers freed on $25,000 each. Whalin placed both on home incarceration, which means they must be at home if not working or in court. A grand jury will hear the case against both men on Sept. 5..

The case involves the switching of universal product codes, also known as UPCs. The codes contain a product number and bar code that, when scanned into a computer, shows the price the items sells for.

Secret Service Agent John Eric Cothran said the two men struck in at least 20 states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Louisiana, Illinois and New York.

Stephen Holmes, a spokesman for The Home Depot, wouldn't discuss the Cameron's case specifically. But he said the company routinely cooperates with law enforcement in such investigations.

"I think there is a misconception people have ... that this is somewhat of a petty crime," Holmes said. "It's far from a petty crime."

The brothers sold much of the merchandise through online auctioneer eBay Inc. A message left for the eBay media relations office was not immediately returned Friday.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Calhoun told Whalin that Carson Cameron, who has a lengthy criminal history across multiple states, should have been held pending trial.

"He's traveled frequently ... and never stayed anywhere for too long," Calhoun said. "He's about as transient a person as you'll ever see."

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