MCSO: 4 used bogus coupons to steal goods, then sold them at flea markets
Published: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 3:42 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 3:42 p.m.
Sheriff's detectives say four people used counterfeit coupons to obtain goods worth more than $142,000 from Wal-Mart stores over several months and sold the stuff at area flea markets.
Other stores were victimized, too, the detectives said, as the foursome used the bogus coupons for products such as grocery items, laundry products and dog food.
Shawn Eric Ernst, 42, and his girlfriend, Linda Renee Disilvio, 51, were arrested Wednesday on charges of organized fraud and organized dealing in stolen property, according to a Marion County Sheriff's Office report. Their alleged accomplices, Charles McGregor, 39, and Christine Pierce, 42, were arrested Thursday morning, also on charges of organized fraud and organized dealing in stolen property.
Sheriff's Lt. Brian Dotten and property crimes Detective Mike Sands met with a Wal-Mart investigator late last month and learned that Disilvio and Ernst had gotten many goods from Wal-Mart stores using fraudulent or counterfeit coupons they found on online.
The detectives were provided with receipts and video surveillance, showing the couple's activities from September 2013 through May 2014 at two local Wal-Marts, at 34 Bahia Ave. and 2600 SW 19th Ave. Road, according to the report. Items worth more than $135,000 were taken over those months.
Wal-Mart officials told the detectives that Disilvio and Ernst had been seen reselling the goods at Market of Marion in Belleview.
During their investigation, the detectives found that the couple had visited other stores, such as Publix, CVS and Winn-Dixie, and gotten items using fake coupons, the report states.
They then took the merchandise to Market of Marion, where McGregor and Pierce would sell them, the report states. Unsold items were taken to another flea market on Gainesville Road to be sold there. The goods were also sold at a flea market in Sumter County.
The report says Wal-Mart's total loss was estimated at a little more than $142,000.
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