View Full Version : bar code scam
04-13-2003, 11:44 AM
In a shut down thread people were mentioning modifications to UPC codes to pay less for items.
If you were caught what crime would you be charged with and why. I poked around in CA codes a bit and it seems to me that modification of price would not fall under shoplifting but something more like fraud. A friend who used to be a WalMart dept manager said it would fall under vandalism since you are changing the packaging.
In several threads on things like store security it seems to me that if a cashier "agrees" to the price scanned that its all legal in some twisted petty rationalized kinda way.
Where wold the lines be drawn.
Please no links to the prior thread or sites that endorse this behavior, I am only concerned with the legal aspect.
Mr. Blue Sky
04-13-2003, 12:55 PM
Possiblt theft by deception?
04-13-2003, 01:03 PM
I came across this yesterday looking for something else entirely. In Arizona it's shoplifting:
Question #30: Why is changing a sales tag shoplifting?
A: It is considered shoplifting because the person switching tags is paying less than the true purchase price for the product and depriving the store of the rightful amount of the product. Arizona Law is defined in A.R.S. 13-1805 (a)
04-13-2003, 01:05 PM
There was a member of the City Council here in Santa Barbara who switched price tags on a piece of gardening equipment and was caught by security. He was charged with shoplifting (theft.)
04-13-2003, 07:00 PM
I also vote for shoplifting. Bar codes, UPCs, price tags, they're all just convenience devices for the store. Alternativly you could have all the cashiers memorize the prices of everything and enter them manually, but you can see that that's a stupid idea. You're actively circumventing that, which means you're stealing. (It also means you're contravening the DCMA, but that itself is stupid, so forget it. :rolleyes:)
04-14-2003, 12:28 AM
Nanoda, the DMCA is supposed to be a law to prevent copyright protection circumvention. It has had a chilling effect on many, many other things (look up Dimitry Sklyarov and Edward Felten), but that's the intent of the law when it was passed by the RIAA.
04-14-2003, 03:27 AM
You (http://slashdot.org/~Derleth) don't have to tell me (http://slashdot.org/~Nanoda) anything about the DMCA. Don't you think you could get charged for "reverse engineering" bar codes or something? ;) (Or are you saying that you would?)
04-14-2003, 07:57 AM
A bar code is simply a machine readable means to identify an object. The point of sale equipment looks up the pricing information based on the bar code. Switching tags would be the same thing as hiding an expensive object inside of a "cheap" box, which would be deception and theft.
04-14-2003, 10:57 AM
It's fraudulent activity, however you look at it.
If you use the internet to obtain or distribute information on how to do it, it may also be viewed as interstate wire fraud, which would win you a visit from the FBI.
04-14-2003, 11:39 AM
Originally posted by SpectBrain
...would be the same thing as hiding an expensive object inside of a "cheap" box, which would be deception and theft.
The checkout clerk did this at Bed, Bath, and Beyond to me the other day. We bought a really nice comforter set, and the clerk opened it up to inspect it, telling me she was just making sure it was complete. Of course I knew she was making sure we didn't stash anything in there and was following company policy, but I said nevertheless: "That's okay, I already checked it out, and it's complete." She dug through anyway, but she was flustered as she tried to tell me she was just double-checking for my convenience. I wish clerks would just be honest and say exactly what they're doing. I'm not offended by such searches until after I've paid for something and it's officially my property.
04-14-2003, 02:04 PM
Originally posted by Nanoda
Don't you think you could get charged for "reverse engineering" bar codes or something?[/B]
Don't see how you could get nailed for that since barcodes are basicly just a font that scanners read. The number right under the bar code is the number depicted by the bar code. Strores sometimes legitimately retag an item with a custom code to resolve some types of SKU conflicts.
I was curious how the legalities unfolded with the cashier since the cashier, as an agent of the store, has "agreed" to the transaction if s/he does note the incorrectly tagged item.
04-14-2003, 06:01 PM
Well, a lot of times items I buy scanned for more than they should be & I don't see the store clerk getting arrested....
Some of our local stores give you the item for free (certain items not included) if it scans over the real price. But if it scans under the real price, you get just that lower price.
04-14-2003, 06:30 PM
It doesn't have to do with manipulating the UPC so it scans as the same item at a different price, it has to do with manupulating the UPC so it scans as a different item.
Your not safe after the cashier has rang you through either,
quite the contrary, in order to arrest you they have to wait until "after" the cashier has rang you and they also have to had seen you physically putting the forged UPC onto the item.
If they didn't see you changing the UPC but catch it after you were rung up, they do have the right to make you pay the correct amount, they just can't say it was your fault.
04-14-2003, 10:51 PM
Just in case it's not clear, handy:
The cashier isn't being arrested because he or she didn't actively use deceptive fraud to deprive you of valuable property.
If you change the barcode on something, in order to make iscan at a lower price, you can, in theory be arrested for it, since you have actively used deceptive fraud to deprive the retailer of valuable property.
The only consideration is whether one has actively used deceptive fraud to deprive someone of valuable property.
To anyone who is annoyed by the kindergarten treatment, my apologies; however, judging by some of the responses in this thread, that's the only way to be sure it's understood.
04-14-2003, 10:59 PM
Besides, handy, the cashier does not set the price. :rolleyes:
As for telling people why we're checking in boxes-the thing is, we're not allowed to come right out and say it.
Yeah, working retail is the ultimate bitch. You have two different sets of people to please-bosses and customers-and often times what they want are exactly the opposite of the other.
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