Scammers steal high-end merchandise to sell online

Investigators move in when products appear on eBay

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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It was an inside job. A group of scam artists stole hundreds of high-end apparel bags. The scam continued on eBay and that move was the beginning of the end.

"You feel violated. You feel angry," said Melissa Maxwell, Customer Service with LeSportsSac.

Maxwell works for the company that distributes the fashionable LeSportSac brand of high end purses and travel accessories. The firm's distribution center was robbed and then caught in the middle of an online scam involving their merchandise.

"When they first started they were just taking one or two from each box and by doing that it was really not showing up on radar that things were really missing," said McCreary County Sheriff Gus Skinner.

Police say the thieves then became brazen.

"They said all the boxes were empty… and there was stuff all over the floor… and the bags were gone," said Maxwell.

More than 200 bags were stolen, costing the company more than $50,000 in sales. From the beginning, authorities suspected it was an inside job.

"We knew they had worked at LeSportsSac, and one of them had a brother - so we knew they had an inside connection," said Skinner.

Then, officials realized the stolen goods were being sold on eBay.

"One of the key pieces of evidence we had against them was that they were selling these purses on Ebay that hadn't even been released yet, so we knew they had to be stolen from the distribution center because they hadn't even been released yet," explained Skinner.

That's when US Postal Inspectors got involved. they were able to track the goods back to several people.  nine individuals were arrested in connection with the case.

Police say when you're buying online - be careful.

"If you're buying off eBay you should look at the ratings, to see what type of ratings they have. If they just opened up be wary of that," warned Skinner.

New security measures are now in place at the distribution center and Maxwell says they will be extra cautious when hiring new employees.

"You really just can't trust anyone," she said.

All of the defendants in this case were charged with buying or possessing bags that they knew had been stolen. The sentencing varies from two years in prison to probation depending on past criminal histories.

Be safe when using eBay:

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