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Trio arrested following ‘elaborate’ Ontario box store scam: Kingston police

Kingston police say they have apprehended three suspects accused of carrying out frauds at big box hardware stores across Ontario for months. Global Kingston

Three people from Kingston have been arrested after police say they stole over $100,000 worth of merchandise from nearly 60 box stores across Ontario last year.

Kingston police’s fraud unit headed the multi-jurisdictional investigation. The investigation began in November 2020 and involved police units from Toronto to Ottawa.

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According to Kingston police, the frauds and thefts involved three people, two women and one man. In each case, one party would purchase an expensive product and leave the store, making sure to keep the receipt.

They would then re-enter the store without the product, go find the same item, and also add a much less expensive item to their cart. When they arrived at the cashier, they would show the receipt for the expensive product they had originally bought, pretending that the one they had with them had already been purchased, and then only have to pay for the less expensive item.

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The first party would leave the store, and a second party would come back in, with the original item purchased along with the receipt, and ask for a full refund.

Police say the group was then able to sell the second expensive item they stole through other means.

According to police, the same group pulled this scam 57 times between May and October 2020.

All in all, police say the trio stole over $100,000 from various big box stores across the province, with one store alone losing $35,000.

After an extensive investigation, Kingston police arrested all three allegedly involved in the frauds on Dec. 31. A man and a woman were found at a west-end home, while the third, a woman, was located at a north-end home.

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Police say she was also in breach of court-imposed conditions for a previous arrest.

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Derek Bennett, 51, and Sherri Allen, 45, each face 26 charges, including two counts of theft over $5,000, two counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of possession of proceeds of property over $5,000, 10 counts of theft under $5,000 and 11 counts of fraud under $5,000.

Victoria Wales, 51, of Kingston, faces 20 charges, including two counts of theft over $5,000, two counts of fraud over $5,000, one count of possession of proceeds of property over $5,000, seven counts of theft under $5,000, six counts of fraud under $5000 and two counts of failing to comply with release order.

Kingston police are continuing the investigation and ask anyone with information to contact them.

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