Woman arrested in label-switching scam
LAUDERHILL, Fla. (WSVN) -- Police have arrested a woman who, they say, was captured on camera as she switched price tags at a popular retail store.
Barbara Aqueveque is accused of switching the UPC bar codes of pricey children's toys with less-expensive codes at every Target and Walmart across Broward County.
The 34-year-old was captured on surveillance camera inside the Target store inside the Sawgrass Mills Mall back in April, as she carefully placed a UPC bar code over the original label on an item. According to investigators, the UPC code Aqueveque stuck on the merchandise came from something inexpensive, but was put on a very expensive item.
Cameras showed Aqueveque at a checkout line at the Target. When the item was scanned, Aqueveque got an illegal bargain. Lauderhill Police Detective Alex Iwaskewycz said the suspect would pay "typically less than $10 for each item that she would switch the label with, and the actual Lego kit, Star Wars Millennium Falcon Lego kits, Queen Anne's Revenge Lego kits, all of these retail at anywhere from $100 to $150 each."
Iwaskewycz continued, "She used the same debit card in every transaction she completed in all the Targets, and as you can see, every item is $6.99."
Lauderhill Police believe Aqueveque hit three to four Target or Walmart stores a day for up to 18 months. She would invest about $80 per day in purchasing the products but would sell the items on eBay, making about $1,000 a day. "She had a store on eBay, and then the funds would be transferred through PayPal and then directly into her checking account," said Iwaskewycz.
Aqueveque would make up to $30,000 a month from the scam. Iwaskewycz said, "I subpoenaed her bank records for the past year, and there were certain months that she had $30,000 coming into her bank account, directly from PayPal, per month."
In one instance, Aqueveque's son can be seen trying to get her to buy something that he wanted. However, since she had not altered the price on the item, she did not purchase it.
Detectives said they found tons of bags filled with expensive toys inside Aqueveque's Sunrise home. "Greed overcame her lack of common sense," Iwaskewycz said.
Aqueveque was arrested and charged with grand theft, organized scheme to defraud and dealing in stolen property. She is out on $9,500 bond.
Police are now trying to figure out what happened to all the money Aqueveque gained in the scam. At the time of her arrest, she only had $36,000 in her bank account. However, authorities said each month, the suspect did make substantial withdrawals.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)