Michigan Retail Fraud Forms: Charges, Penalties & Defense

Seal of Michigan depicting retail fraud forms in Michigan

Did you know that retail fraud is more than just shoplifting? If you have been accused of one of the retail fraud forms in Michigan, it is critical that you contact an experienced attorney.

There are a variety of other activities that fall under the definition of retail fraud in Michigan. First, let’s review the three degrees of retail fraud.

The Three Degrees of Retail Fraud in Michigan

According to the Michigan Legislature Section 750.356c and Section 750.356d, the three degrees of retail fraud in Michigan are based on the dollar amount of the offense. Each degree includes the following conditions:

  1. While a store is open to the public, a person alters, transfers, removes and replaces, conceals, or otherwise misrepresents the price at which property is offered for sale with the intent not to pay for the property or to pay less than the price at which the property is offered for sale as specified in the amounts below.
  2. While a store is open to the public, a person steals property of the store that is offered for sale at the specific dollar amounts below.
  3. With intent to defraud, a person obtains or attempts to obtain money or property from the store as a refund or exchange for property that was not paid for and belongs to the store, if the amount of money or the value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained as outlined in the different degrees below.

First Degree Retail Fraud

  • If the resulting difference in price is $1,000.00 or more.
  • If the person has 1 or more prior convictions for committing or attempting to commit an offense under this section.
  • Or if the values of the difference in price, property stolen, or money or property obtained or attempted to be obtained in separate incidents pursuant to a scheme or course of conduct within any 12-month period are aggregated to determine the total value of $1,000.00 or more.

Second Degree Retail Fraud

  • If the resulting difference in price is $200.00 or more but less than $1,000.00

Third Degree Retail Fraud

  • If the resulting difference in price is less than $200.00

Penalties for Retail Fraud in Michigan

  • First degree retail fraud is considered a felony. It is punishable by up to 5 years in prison, and/or a fine of up to $10,000 or 3 times the amount you stole, whichever is greater.
  • Second degree retail fraud is a misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and/or a fine of up to $2,000 or 3 times the value of what was stolen, whichever is greater.
  • Third degree retail fraud is also a misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $500 or 3 times the value of what was stolen, whichever is greater.

Retail Fraud Forms – Additional Ways an Employee May Commit Retail Fraud

There are several retail fraud forms or additional ways an employee may commit retail fraud.

Gift Card Fraud

If you ring up and activate a gift card for a paying customer, but then swap it out for an inactivated gift card that can’t be used and pocket the activated card, this is retail fraud.

If you run a false return on merchandise and create false store credit on a gift card, this is retail fraud. One New York Times article highlighted a case of a sales clerk stealing more than $130,000 this way from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Collaborative Theft

If you use your position as a retail worker to allow your friends to steal from the store, this is retail fraud. This includes giving friends and family members your own deep discount. In addition, this includes things like ringing up a few of your friends’ items and allowing them to walk away with the rest.

Additionally, collaborative theft includes changing inventory numbers to make it look like the items stolen were never delivered. However, it even sometimes includes allowing a friend to come in and steal but acting like you are not involved for security cameras.

Inventory Manipulating

If you make it seem like the vendor hasn’t delivered certain items by keeping them out of inventory and taking them, this is retail fraud. At bigger stores with poor inventory systems, employees have been known to simply take merchandise – exploiting the fact that items aren’t entered individually. This is retail fraud.

Fake Cash Returns

The practice of fake cash returns is when an employee looks through old receipts, choosing a high-ticket item to ring up for a return and then pocketing the cash. This is one of the oldest types of retail fraud.

Defense

In conclusion, if you are or a loved one is facing one of these retail fraud forms charges, it’s crucial that you contact a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Do this before you talk to Loss Prevention or Law Enforcement. This is a serious charge that could have lifelong repercussions.

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