A Home Depot employee used play money to steal about $400,000 from a Phoenix-area store over the past four years, a Secret Service investigation has found.
The audacious scheme was uncovered in December when the retailer contacted the agency to investigate hundreds of thousands of dollars missing from the store.
Turns out the real money was replaced with play money purchased from Amazon. The discovery wasn’t so funny for the Home Depot employees who caught the alleged theft.
The fake money allegedly used is described on Amazon.com as “Prop Money 100 Dollar Bills Real Two-sided printing Fake money that looks real for party decorations and videos,” according to a complaint filed Jan. 31 by Federal Secret Service. Arizona court.
The employee, Adrian Jean Pineda, was responsible for counting the cash in the store’s records in Tempe, Arizona, and then putting the cash in a bag that went to Wells Fargo. He allegedly took the real money and replaced it with fake.
The brazen theft at the Arizona Home Depot comes at a time when retailers across the country are coming under fire for so-called shoplifting, in which groups of people storm stores – retailers luxury to pharmacies – and brazenly take what They want.
Store owners and others concerned with law and order are furious that the smash-and-grabbers are largely getting away with it.
Pineda, who was caught on surveillance cameras replacing cash in ledgers with counterfeit money he had in his wallet, carried out the scheme from August 2018 to January 2022, he said. he admitted to a Home Depot manager who confronted him at the start of his shift at 3:50 a.m. on January 31, according to the complaint.
At the time, Pineda handed over $5,300 in real money he withdrew from the store that day and seven counterfeit $100 bills with the serial number “playmoney,” according to the complaint.
He also admitted he still had $22,000 in cash at his home, which the agency seized.
Pineda could not be reached for comment and Home Depot declined to comment.
The Secret Service said he had grown bolder over time, improving his lifestyle with a personal trainer and a new car, according to a New York Times report.
“It was obvious that he was spending a lot more than he was earning,” Frank Boudreaux Jr., the special agent in charge of the US Secret Service office in Phoenix, told the publication Sunday.