News: Flaw in Wal-Mart Returns System Allows Major Thefts to Go Unnoticed

Flaw in Wal-Mart Returns System Allows Major Thefts to Go Unnoticed

We love tearing apart security here at Null Byte. Several years back, upon returning items to Wal-Mart due to a malfunction, I noticed something very peculiar about the way their overall procedure goes. I brought the item up to the desk, and the woman asked if it didn't work, which I responded affirmatively. Without a moment's notice, she takes it right off to the defective items area and asks if I would like cash or store credit.

Does anyone else see anything wrong with this picture?

Great customer service, but if Wal-Mart is at all concerned about protecting themselves, they should probably stop what they're doing. The woman behind the counter not only failed to check if the serial number matched the one on my receipt, but she also didn't ask for any receipt whatsoever! This kind of loophole could allow people to craft all sorts of nasty manipulative tricks. Serial numbers exist for a reason, Wal-Mart...use them!

What Kind of Nasty Trickery Are We Talking About Here?

A team of two people could walk into the store with intentions of scamming Wal-Mart by using the below exploit.

Scenario 1

  1. Person A purchases a $300 knife set.
  2. Person B grabs a duplicate knife set, and puts it in a secluded location within the store, then texts the other to let them know where it is.
  3. Person A puts the knife set in their car, then returns to the store, and heads over to the location where the second set is.
  4. Person A returns the second knife set for a full refund, keeping the original.

This scenario could even be altered to work if Wal-Mart validated serial numbers.

Scenario 2

  1. Person A purchases an item.
  2. Person B takes the duplicate item and hides it in a mutual location.
  3. Person A walks over and switches out their purchased one for the non-purchased.
  4. Person A returns the item to the counter, without the receipt, stating "I lost the receipt, but you just saw me here". They get a full refund.
  5. Person B uses the receipt and returns the purchased one a few days later to avoid suspicion. He would make it out of the door easily. (After all, he has the receipt.)
  6. Thieves bask in their $600 profit and Wal-Mart doesn't even know it.Flaw in Wal-Mart Returns System Allows Major Thefts to Go Unnoticed

Maybe this will serve as a wake up call to businesses to enforce secure policies and procedures. Validate your receipts, always.

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Then if you find a (example) external harddisc for 200$ in a small local shop, that matches a harddisc in Wallmart for 250$... Then you can buy the harddisc in localshop - and then get 250$ in Walmart for "giving back" the product, And earn a 50$ profit :O - Enjoy infinite money, Walmart will go bankrupt xD

i doubt your local mom and pop tech shop will beat wal-marts "everyday low prices" haha remember they are always rolling back their prices

yeah... but anyway... Just the thought of it xD ;D

This can be punished. I saw a news article once about this. They can charge you with theft fraud and concealment.

for sure.... you would be ill advised to actually do it.

Ya if you dumb enough to get caught. And those who are is fine with me. We don't need people who can't even pull of something simple as that having any kind of actual influence on society as a whole

What do you think the security camera crew are doiing all day.

Wal-Mart's security camaras are horrible positioned so people can just look at one and find the blind spot, remember if you cant see it it can barly see you

Except for the facial recognition they have lol

Also, no one watches the cameras. They are recorded for reference when something goes wrong, no one sits there and actually watches, sadly. Even if they were, it would be hard to pick out what the person was doing in the middle of the Wal-Mart crowd.

That's where you are wrong they have people watching the cameras all Tue time they also have people walk
ing around who appear to be customers

I myself was caught by Walmart and they have th special computer mouse to monitor theft it's like a ball and they spin it it's fast too

That has never been true for any store location!

I worked security at one and there are always people watching, not just one but 3-4 when its busy and in 2 seperate rooms completely full with screens, them on holidays they have dozens of police and probably a dozen "secret shoppers"!

LMFAO. Do you honestly want to know the answer to that comment. I used to work in that room with ONLY 1 more person " SOMETIMES " during the day shift which the hours are 8am until 8pm and 1 person from 801 pm until 759 am. Now monitoring 6 32 inch monitors broken into 4 rows of 4 of specific areas of the store. Now tell me how is 1 person 90% of the time keeping eyes on 96 little monitors. Lol. Good old Walmart cutbacks !!

You must have been in a very old Walmart and probably 20 years ago, there are always even at the slowest times 2 people watching and up to 8, then secret shoppers calling in and looking for what there told to look for. I actually did work for them as both and I can firmly say, BULLSHIT!

It might be like that in your Walmart but in Jefferson Parish 5 minutes from New Orleans they got top of the line cameras with one or two people watching them and if you steal something with a camera seeing you you will get caught I can promise you that. Now just like the other guy said they got spots where those cameras don't see you and that's how they get away with products. And now they're starting to get hip to the stealing and returning game so if you don't want to lose don't even try it. But hey if you get away with it more power to you because they are the real criminals anyway with those ridiculous prices

While true, they are watching. If you try this stuff, be very careful. It's not exactly recommended but it is a gaping flaw in security that should be addressed.. Then again, there are plenty of other flaws too. It's only shoplifting if they catch you walking out of the store with an item, so if you literally run in, grab something, and run out before anyone gets to the door, it doesn't matter if you're on camera. They can't charge you after you leave the property. Again, not recommended, but it's something to think about.

Somehow, I don't believe this. References? If they catch you on camera just waltzing on in and stealing something, I'm *sure* they could do something about it... I mean, what's the purpose of a security camera if you can't use it as evidence? Scare tactics? Possibly. But I am doubtful.

Yeah, this used to be a huge issue a friend of mine had who worked for TJ Maxx. They cannot physically hold you in the store if they suspect you of stealing something, you are free to walk. Just because an employee sees it, doesn't mean that they can join in on the law breaking and tackle a person to the ground for questioning. They can't even make you whip out ID :(.

Actually civil arrest is still a thing

Actually civil arrest is now a kid napping charge at least in mississippi . So if they caught u they would get a worse charge.

They can't make to u go by back in the store just because they tell you 2. There not aloud to touch or tackle. So just run if they approach you!

Even better through there merchandise on the ground and keep running they have to stay with the merchandise.
Or better yet get a job and just pay for it then you won't have to worry about going to jail and

As soon as you leave their property they have no jurisdiction on you, and they would have to call local enforcement agency to have something done about it

I know i'm late in the topic but a lot have changed in this time. be careful those men/women you see in "security outfits" are POLICE OFFICERS!!! Walmart is paying off duty officers to work their store in their full uniform, its called moonlighting and they have full police authority on or off duty, I have literally seen them tase ppl trying to run pass them at the door.

they can't physically touch u or chance you if you leave the premises the can't touch you anyway but the can call the police

They call the police immediately and wait to confront you until they're there and you walked past the register or prove you DONT have the money on hand to cover it. That simple..

these things vary by state and city according to theft rates. . For example, in Georgia the laws are written in such a way that yes they can have you arrested for shoplifting even if you do not attempt to leave the store but simply put something in a pocket because you were not thinking or hands full. Also, in the greater Atlanta area, many stores have great cameras, and they have real cops watching them instead of their own personnel.

These ways are stupid and most DON'T work that way, you have to have it scanned at the entrance and a special sticker with writings on it and their personal numbers. The only real way is through returning and claiming something was missing or shoplifting, both are stupid but there's only one way to legally steal from Wal-Mart and not get caught which clearly won't be posted on a forum!

I know a.couple people who have literally filled up there by carts with food rugs whatever they needed at the time. And would just walk out of the store with full basket of stuff they did this for a while in tcerta stores

Are you really saying that with a straight face right now??? they can't charge you after they leave hahahah so you can be known by the entire city and not one person doesn't say that's not you but it don't matter cuz you got away so they can't come kick your door in and come within inches of one dumb cop thinking he saw something and felt threatened so now your dead ok bud

If you must know, I used to do this. I would literally run in and just grab something and run out again. Normally I would see a security guard hit the door as I got across the street. They would see me and often made eye contact, but they didn't follow. After I did it once I looked it up, and discovered they couldn't do #$%@. I was caught for shoplifting eventually (albeit not with that method) and luckily got off with a warning because I had no priors and I wasn't picked up with anything big. Haven't done that again, not a fun experience.

+1 for life stories :D.

Interesting... But what happens if they do contact law enforcement officials? Can they prosecute you if they find you? I just find it hilarious that that they go through all the troubles of having alarms and security cameras and yet can do nothing if someone does a grab 'n' dash.

the two situations u put up are from The Real Hustle BBC; kick ass show, even used the same $300 knife set idea haha

Actually, that's just pure coincidence xD. The knife set cost 300 and everything? That was just the first thing that came to mind since I had bought pots and pans and other kitchenware earlier that day, haha. I know what show I'll be looking to get Originally I was thinking electronics for high priced items, but some places keep those locked up, so the POC wouldn't be universal then :(. How funny though xD.

Just FYI, Wal-Mart doesn't rely solely on the cameras placed throughout the store. Loss Prevention actually has regularly dressed, average Joe's that walk around the store and "pretend" to be shopping, all the while they are actually looking for thieves. Anyone that knows anything about Wal-Mart scams and cons would know this.. You can always tell who they are if you just happen to notice the same guy that just happens to be in the department or isle right next to yours, the entire time you are shopping, and he will never have anything in his hands, and never have a basket. Good luck.

I have noticed this as well and they tend to follow the people of color in the Wal-Marts and other stores.

Omg everyone is of color who lives in the USA, SMH really it always comes to that but just cause one person us black and oin is white or Red or yellow Jesus loves all the children of the world tha d

Nice tips, bro :). I've not seen that in the Wal-Marts I've been in, and I'm pretty keen (more like paranoid) about people following me. I think it's because I don't live in a large town, maybe they see it as a bit unnecessary? Who knows. But that's a great tip to have, I didn't know that they took it that far.

Ya, they are called secret shoppers and they get paid more than anyone, especially on holidays.
None of these ways would work and idk why anyone is encouraging it.

If you are female and think you have male security following you I just go the tampon isle and make up. Then when he shows up in that area you know what's up. Wave and leave, the longer you ate in the store easier it is to catch you know what your getting keep eye and the prize. In and out

Walmart, and most of society for that matter, operates on the fact that most of us are honest and law-abiding. Just because you can get away with a crime doesn't make it a good idea for so many valid and obvious reasons I can't begin to list them all here.

As someone who used to work for Wal-Mart, believe me they know all about this scam and if you do it often enough you will be caught. Depending on the apathy of the worker at the Customer Service desk, they know which returns are legit and which ones aren't.
I caught a couple of "receipt-thieves" myself, and know how easy it is to spot someone doing this.

Also as for the situation where you can buy something from somewhere else and return it to WalMart , they do not lose money in that situation. They have deals with basically all their suppliers that state that if the product is faulty they will receive their money back from the original company. They have a couple of employees that all they do is sort through returns and make sure they go back to the originating company and get the money back.

+1 for life stories xD :D Again! :D It's really interesting hearing from experienced people :D ! Thanks

Awesome :). Moral of the story: Don't actually do it, you'll get caught soon enough. I really wish that they would just consistently check, but you can't rely on humans for that. Returns should be computer operated xD.

Oh so you just made up the first part? They really do lose money in paying employees just to look through more crap that didn't even come from their store?

I am a former Walmart associate and if you ever hear "Stockman Oscar" that mean they are paging the security guys walking around the store. Also they are loosing ALOT of money by not having door greeters in my area. As of like 6 months or less ago, there are no more door greeters and this just allows anyone to complete this reciept scam mentioned above. They apparently just don't care to pay attention to the thousands of people walking in everyday all day and night and they really need to make the service desk area's near the doors, so they can at least try to pay attn.

idk how ppl get away with it, like, any walmart I frequent, unless its late at night, is almost always busy! with so many people around, how is there ever opportunity? I've stolen from stores when i was a younger kid, like 12, but as an adult, I guess I can't say I have ever been that desperate, or stupid... there have been times I have been tempted, wanted something i didnt quite have the extra cash for, but not brazen enough to steal it

alright look, remember this: they work at walmart, how smart can they be? anyone with any hustle can get by the secret shoppers. As to them prosecuting after youve already left and didnt get caught, sure , as long as they dont get your license plate cuz then they will slap a case on you , not tell you and all of a sudden have a warrant on your ass . i just seen it happen so cover up them plates. i would love to tell you the real lick at walmart but then everyone would do it but ill lay out a hint and if you can figure it out from there the enjoy. hint 1 photoshop hint2 walmart doesnt track whats on the receipt just the value of it . get it . now edit! those of you who do your welcome ... iam out

Not true they have a new system at Wal-Mart that tracks the serial numbers of the items. Say you have a stolen item and try to return it for store credit or exchange the item it will show (if stolen) that that item was never purchased at all ever ie. they know its stolen now and that you have it no good. Or if you were to purchase a new item and try to return say one that you bought a year ago thats broke it will show them the date and even the time it was purchased at witch wont be the same as whats on the receipt fraud again no good.

Geee, what could possibly go wrong with that? hmmmm....

Walmart is the leading retailer in the world, however the powers to be are starting to notice this "shrink" stolen merchandise. To be honest Walmart very own policies are their worst enemy in the asset protection side of things, the security cameras are flawed but this day in age I see the company making adjustments, ie..spend 25k a year on severance and a staff to run them, plus 100k a year on off dutiy police officers to moon light in their store with full police powers. with that 125k that store spent they noticed a 900k increase on tier August inventory. The powers that be are starting to think that this could help with their solution. I have seen stores were their "shrink prevention" actually have equates on their prosecutions, Walmart is not stupid, I would even beet that in the near future the return policy will be receipt only, and on the higher price items taken back to the original store of purchase so that transaction could be looked up both on our inventory and our camera loop, and their is a reason that returns are done at the original store of purchase! these policy's are in effect in three districts that I know of. "the cat and mouse game continue" To be honest I was not to confident in the new "Same store Receipt only returns" but when two inventory were complete, "the policy was so effective" that Walmart was still able to give their customers lower prices, so that they could live better!!!

Yes, the stolen item that you are trying to return will come up as wal mart's property and by law that merchandise is owned outright by the store, and they should re-claim it to their inventory, Basically they keep it.

Just because one works at Wal-Mart does not make one stupid. Try returning something to me with that scam, and we will see how quickly that transaction hits a brick wall.

I could care less if Walmart goes bankrupt, I hate Walmart, as all Americans should. They do absolutely nothing for this country, they are destroying our economy. So they have cheap prices, look where they get all their merchandise, straight from China. Wake up people and buy from local suppliers, I promise the quality will be a hell of a lot better than junk from Walmart.

If you consider donating a total of 1 billion in cash and in kind gifts in the United states, 88.2 million in cash and gift to international markets. and volunteering associate hours of 2.2 million hours, generating 18 million to non-profit U.S. organization in 2012. not helping the nation and world. I understand that Walmart Sams have their flaws and down sides, but if you compare the numbers they put up with any other corporation in the U.S. you will see the results.

Ok... As we all agree that Walmart does absolutely nothing for this country but they just care to extend their business around the world and get more money upon our shoulders...

Please, if you are watching this message, then email me at I will be more than glad to share how I did tear apart the Security of Internal Walmart System... If you are a Walmart associate, then you know very well what I'm taking about... ImI

I bought the new snitch movie today for my husband and when we went to open it the disc was gone. Will Walmart refund or trade for a new one? I hate it when people steal something. Please let me know thanks

Call the store where you purchased it. It may seem a bit suspect though, waiting this long. Their policy though for DVDs (CDs and Games as well) is that you MUST have the receipt and (if approved) will be exchanged for the exact same item.

DVD or blu ray? If you have a receipt and in the 15 day return window, more than likely it will be up to the CSM to make that call.

Well I really liked walmart until I found out that they are not for labeling of GMO products, and they don't carry much of anything truly organic. They're in it to win big time!!!! Guilty of purchasing a duplicate item to replace a broken one when a teen: /

Hey yeah I'm not too sure what Walmart your going to but I do returns daily. U wanna hear my trick.. I live near 3 different Walmart within a 10 mile radius. . Here's the fun part. . Now a days where I live. . St. Louis. You won't get cash if no receipt is present. So her you go. Drive to wally world. As busy time. Grab your pedometer and park in the back of the lot just in case. . Then. U ever glance at the shopping cart Bins??! . Well once in a while. A donkey will leave their receipt right in the buggy or throw it on the ground. . You may find several receipts in a day but u have to look at each receipt. . You only want the ones that paid cash or debit. NO ABSOLUTELY NO FOODSTAMP EBT. CARDS NOR CREDIT. I SAS DEBIT. OR CASH. . THEN CHECK THE PURCHAZED ITEMS.. FIND THE NON PARISHABLE item a and the costly ones. Use your smart phone as a Barcode item looker upper. Then. U match the upc codes exactly 100% or u won't get cash. . Learned hard way. Then. Find a non camera Isle and a empty checkout Lane. Stuff the goods n bag. Walk to service desk n return or go to a different store

I read all of these comments and was wondering what would happen if you received a donated nexus and it broke, so you bought a new one from wal-mart say and you kept the new one, and returned the broken one...simple just switching the old one as if it were the original new one....what could go wrong? Furthermore, the new one had a barcode engraved on it, while the donated one didn't ...but the receipt and barcode on the box match up

I'd like to know that as well. With any product, if somebody had a product like say a phone case that was broken, purchased a new identical product, and returned the old used and broken one in the box of the new one, making it look as if it had never been opened and returned it, could that come back to haunt the person?

I work at Walmart at the Service Desk where customers bring items they are returning. You cannot return Electronic items without a receipt and the serial numbers are scanned to make sure they match what was purchased. All returns without a receipt over $10 require an I.D. that is entered in the register. Customers are only allowed 3 returns without a receipt over $10 within a 45 day period. Returns totalling $50 or more without a receipt require approval from the Customer Service Manager. Licensed items such as NFL clothing and accessories can not be returned without a receipt. Opened DVDs and Video Games can only be exchanged for the exact same item and that item is opened by the cashier before handing it to the customer.

i used to think walmart didnt watch there cameras either. until a walmart security manager busted me one time stealing or attemptin to steal 2 xbox 360 games which were around 30$ per game and a 250$ gps. which i dont understand why i did it.

and also another time i done it one the guys were acting like a customers husband and leaned on her basket and then he apprehended me by following me threw the store until i tryed to suddenly escape the store as i thought "un noticable" when all of a sudden he ran up to catch up to me to stop me asking me if i had the receipts for the items in my coat. which was kinda funny so i laughed afterall i obviously wouldnt have a receipt afterall he alrdy see me stuff the items in my coat. lmao

What if I went on eBay and bought a broken TV for parts and then went to Walmart and bought that same exact TV. I swap the serial number stickers from the old TV to the new one stick the old one in the box and return it?

Yes, that will work, as well as with any gaming console or etc. Just leave the voiding stickers alone, and just transfer over the s/n sticker. Using a blow dryer/heat gun makes lifting of the sticker gentle and easy.

This is all so funny to me as I am not a scammer/theif. But am constantly watched and followed evertime I am in that damn place. Mainly because I have a shopping problem and by 800$ worth of merchandise at a time . (But thanks to them watching me as if I am the bad guy, and their shi*ty customer service, i maybe shop there once a. Quarter (every 3 months or so, which has improved my shopping problem!) You are welcome for my decoy services lol. I hate that store btwI miss woolsworth, and thriftys lol

I won't get into their return policy, or a number of other issues in their poorly thought out plans for a multi-billion dollar empire/monopoly

Umm, this is a past Walmart employee saying that serial numbers are on all receipts. That's incorrect. This is only the case for specific items, such as high-end jewelry, cell/smartphones and tablets, PC's, TVs and typically obvious stuff like that. Most items don't have an S/N or IMEI, but only a UPC number. It's stands for Universal Product Number. It's definitely universal for each of the same exact item. For example, a pair of Brahma steel toe boots costing $60, will just have a UPC, and if it's the same item as the other, meaning same exact (size/color as well) that code will match. If you are wondering what a UPC and where it's located, it's basically the Barcode scanned at the check out counter. These numbers will be the same as all the items it's with when you find it as long as it was stocked by the employees accurately. This is actually one of the methods stockers use to quickly find a items correct location.

I'm pretty sure everybody knows what a upc is. and the ppl mentioning serial#s were talking about electronics not items like steel toe boots. lol

I was in Walmart over 2 months ago, they just approached me and said that they got a tip from a customer service person that i was at the customer service counter and had some boxes in my cart and that i didnt pay for them. Someone from walmart helped me out and put the items in my car for me, they say the video shows me going through the store and getting the items but never going through a lane to pay but straight up to the service desk, i was talking to the woman there and showed her a receipt but then walked out the front door with the items and never paid for them. I said- i remember that day, i did pay for those i even remember the amount! and why would someone from there help me put the stuff in my car if i didnt pay for it??? and if the customer service lady didnt think i paid for the items, she waits 2 months to say something> Come on!!! Is that even legal? 2 months later.... i am so in shock about this crap, why are they picking on me?!!!

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