Man steals $64,000 from Walmart stores across the US using sleight-of-hand, feds say

Using a sleight-of-hand trick, a man from Canada stole more than $64,000 from Walmart stores across the U.S., according to federal authorities.

The 37-year-old man is accused of tricking Walmart workers after making small purchases, according to a Sept. 11 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri. Sleight of hand is a “cleverly executed trick or deception” that requires skill and dexterity.

The man would tell employees he and his family collect U.S. currency — usually $100 bills — and asked if he could examine the serial numbers on dollar bills in the cash register, prosecutors said in the indictment.

“In truth and fact, neither the defendant nor his family collects United States bills based on the serial number on the bills,” authorities continued. “After the cashier handed the defendant a stack of bills, the defendant would surreptitiously place some of the bills into his sleeve or pocket. The defendant would then return the remaining stack of bills to the cashier.”

Now, the man has been indicted on one count of wire fraud and one count of interstate transportation of stolen property in the U.S. District Court in St. Louis.

He was arrested Sept. 5 and pleaded not guilty Monday, Sept. 11, records show. His defense attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

Authorities said the man entered the country around March 1 through Dallas, Texas, from South Korea on a visitor visa.

He then traveled on a weekly basis to Walmart stores across the nation, according to court records.

Between March 23 and June 8, for example, the man stole about $33,700 from 30 stores in eight states, prosecutors said. The states included Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.

From June 12 through June 15, authorities said he stole $16,320 from five Walmart stores in Missouri and one in Illinois. And between June 20 and July 18, he stole about $13,992 from seven Walmart stores in Illinois, Indiana, Virginia and Maryland, according to prosecutors.

The man deposited the stolen money into a U.S. bank account before wiring the funds to his accounts in Canada, officials said.

“The wire fraud charge carries a potential penalty of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine or both,” authorities said. “The interstate transportation of stolen property charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and the same fine.”

Walmart did not immediately respond to a request for comment from McClatchy News.

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