Bar Code Bust

Price (tag) fixing


Large shops with large amounts of different stock

The Scam
This swindle is so simple I am suprised it hasn't been more popular. As shops get bigger and bigger with more products and more staff paid less money, it becomes a lot hard for the businesses to keep track of stock. The person who actually takes your money often has no idea how much a particular product is worth.

The con artist can take advantage of this by buying a cheap product or just finding the box it came in. He then cuts or scans the bar code off the product. He can then attach the bar code to an more expensive product. When he takes the altered product to the register it scans as being far cheaper then it really is, giving the con man a massive discount.

For example, DVD players all come in the same size and shape box. However, the price can vary from $50 to $2000. The shop clerk is unlikely to spot the difference between the two unless they are familiar with the DVD players. For this reason, the con artist would avoid speciality electronics shops and focus on large department stores such as Target or K-mart.

The ideal shop for con artists to hit would be Big W where not only do they have a large amount of varied stock but they also trust shoppers to scan their own and pay for it on the way out!

A more low-tech version of this swindle is for the con artist to put a cheaper price tag on a product. However, this is less likely to work today as only smaller shops still use price tags and smaller shops are more knowledgeable about their product.

Case Study
A Victorian man, Edward Imre Podolak, has been arrested for allegedly attempting this swindle all over Adelaide. The man managed to swindle TVs, microwaves, portable hot water systems and fishing gear by swapping the bar codes. He was busted while trying to buy a $700 coffee machine for $30. Podolak said outside the court, ""Everybody just keeps taking from the smaller people -- they don't care about the small people...I am just trying to make ends meet so I don't lose my home and my family."

Items under $500 could be purchased without arousing suspicion. Items over $500 might get you caught like Mr Podolak!

Short con, retail

Created by Nicholas J. Johnson
Australia's Honest Con Man

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