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Barcode Scam Redux - Target's $4.99 iPod

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the poor-choices dept.

Businesses 1014

abscondment writes "Nearly a year ago, two couples were charged with scamming WalMart for nearly $1.5 Million by creating custom barcodes with reduced prices. You'd think that in the intervening months, other companies would guard against such shenanigans - but today we see that Target just caught a scammer buying iPods for $4.99! The 19 year old used BarCode Magic to create fake barcodes, buying expensive electronics suspiciously low prices. Personally, I would have gone for a less blatant discount, or refrained from visiting the same store so soon afterwards."

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The crime is in getting caught... (5, Interesting)

jmp_nyc (895404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181404)

Of course, we only hear about the ones stupid enough to get caught. I wonder what percentage of people attempting barcode scams aren't caught (or publicized, to save the store embarrassment). Similarly, I wonder if stories like this increase or reduce the number of people trying these scams...
-JMP

Re:The crime is in getting caught... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181414)

Increase for sure, I'm going to try this tomorrow morning.

Don't mod this funny.

Re:The crime is in getting caught... (4, Insightful)

toddbu (748790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181421)

I think that the bigger question is how much it costs to prevent such theft. If it doesn't happen often, why would a store put in a permanent fix for the problem? They don't station security guards at the end of every aisle to prevent casual stealing, so why is this any different?

Re:The crime is in getting caught... (5, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181506)

If it doesn't happen often, why would a store put in a permanent fix for the problem?

They already have. It's called RFID. If you have been around this site for the past two years, you've probably heard of it.

It's much harder to forge an RFID tag unless you have the private key of the transmitter, or have some high-tech spy equipment that can capture the entire negotiation stream between the transmitter and target to crack it later... and the cost of doing either of these things would be prohibitive to anyone who wants to make money off shoplifting (you'd be better off planning a bank robbery).

Re:The crime is in getting caught... (1)

Jas0nC (878953) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181548)

Or you could just open the package and switch the RFID chip...

Re:The crime is in getting caught... (2, Insightful)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181599)

You'd probably have a harder time getting cutting open a box, removing the product, hunting down the tag, ans swapping it, all by the security cameras, than discreetly sticking on a barcode.

Re:The crime is in getting caught... (1)

bryan986 (833912) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181520)

I worked at target a while ago, they have probably the most advanced security systems of any store around. Target stores is busy areas upwards of 2 people each day. Target stores often let city police units use their equipment and facilities to analyze crimes, so the cost is distributed around.

Re:The crime is in getting caught... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181491)

That be correct; laws is for losers.
Us smart people is above the law!

,,,I wonder what percentage of people attempting barcode scams aren't caught,,,

Most of we smart people dont pay more than $1 for nothing. That includes our cars and homes. Ripping off people is a signe of intelligence!

We walk the backs of the stupid masses
Criminials untie!

--
Comment does not end in newline. Add one? (y or n)
Please answer y or n.

I notice it happening more and more. (1)

tentimestwenty (693290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181496)

I was in the grocery store today and noticed tons of products with switched bar codes. I've been thinking about the whole thing because it's been happening at our record store a lot more than it used to. I don't know whether people are more broke or just more inclined to try it since cashiers just scan everything through absent-mindedly.

Re:I notice it happening more and more. (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181600)

Maybe there are people who just want to mess with the system, switch a bunch of tags and let the people coming afterwards deal with the confusion.

Re:The crime is in getting caught... (5, Insightful)

bjwest (14070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181514)

The crime is in getting caught? No, the crime was in fraudulently purchasing items. What's wrong with today's youth that think it's not cheating or stealing if you don't get caught? No wonder crime is such a problem. You need to grow up and realize that breaking the rules/law is wrong whether or not you get caught.

Old news... +ORC (4, Informative)

purduephotog (218304) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181560)

Way back in the beginning of the Internet (Yes, kiddies, there was such a time) a man known only as +ORC wrote about 'codebaring' as he called it. He also spoke about the supermarket enslavement as to why supermarkets force you to go both counterclockwise and why they put all sorts of greenery and colours right when you enter.

His name- +ORC. To this day no one knows who he was, but his faithful servant, +Fravia, kept his vigil for a number of years. When Anon.penet.fi went down he melted away.

http://www.totse.com/en/hack/magnetic_stripes_and_ other_data_formats/161810.html
http://www.woodmann.com/fravia/orc.htm

Big fucking deal! (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181603)

I don't see what the big deal is. A five year old could so this. In fact, as a five year old 23 years ago - I *DID* do this.

I wanted one toy really bad and knew my mom wouldn't buy it for me, so I switched the price (it wasn't a barcode back then, of course) and convinced my mom to get it for me. It caused so many troubles for the people at the cash register that they eventually gave up trying to figure out why the price and item didn't match each other and felt bad for taking up so much of our time with their screwups that they just GAVE it to me and let us walk out.

Being a little kid kicks so much ass because nobody ever suspects what a criminal little fuck you are.

Thanks for the link... (1)

theheff (894014) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181406)

I wonder if anyone has tried the target in my town yet...

yay (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181409)

first post!!

cause property theft is kewl! (-1, Flamebait)

binarybum (468664) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181411)

"Personally, I would have gone for a less blatant discount, or refrained from visiting the same store so soon afterwards."

      hey, thanks for that lovely insight into the mechanics of your criminal mind -- scumbag

Re:cause property theft is kewl! (0, Offtopic)

HardCase (14757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181439)

Nice moderating - Flamebait, troll? Come on, the guy's got a good point.

Re:cause property theft is kewl! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181494)

Chilldafuckout. Geeks (in the Jon Katz sense) can't resist an optimization problem. It's not an ethical issue... just another abstraction in a life that's probably filled with abstractions. Just because I think, Suppose I were an iPod thief... what's the best way for me to balance the risk/reward equation? doesn't mean I don't respect property rights, or that I'm even remotely likely to steal anything in the real world.

Class 5 felony (5, Insightful)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181412)

The 19-year-old is facing three counts of being naughty - one of them a Class 5 felony.

Ouch, ... that's gonna leave a mark...

People like him (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181495)

It's people like him who ruin the system for the rest of us.

Re:Class 5 felony (0, Offtopic)

winkydink (650484) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181501)

But at least it will be in a place that doesn't show, right Bubba?

Re:Class 5 felony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181532)

explain to a non-american what this is?

Re:Class 5 felony (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181585)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Felony [wikipedia.org] has a good definition of a felony.

A Class 5 is pretty much low-end stuff, few years in jail, a fine and the ruin of your reputation. (Good luck getting a high paying job)

Re:Class 5 felony (5, Interesting)

vishbar (862440) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181568)

From TFA:

He faces a felony count of forgery and two misdemeanor counts of theft.

I find it interesting that forgery was the charge that carries the greatest clout. Looks like he would have been better off if he just stuck the iPod under his jacket. It almost seems like he's being punished more for subverting the store's security system than for the actual theft of the property. Is it normal to charge a bar-code switcher with forgery? In the lego case [slashdot.org] it seems as if he was charged with theft rather than forgery.

Either way, you're right...he's going to have a tough time finding a job after college with this on his record...

Re:Class 5 felony (1)

Heembo (916647) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181602)

Yea, like on his record, for the rest of his life if he gets hit with a felony. Not a laughing matter.

Salt & Vinegar iPod (5, Funny)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181413)

It's a bit obvious when the iPod you are about to buy rings up as a packet of Salt'n'Vinegar Crisps

Re:Salt & Vinegar iPod (1)

spudwiser (124577) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181477)

_I_ have a salt & vine gar iPod!
-king steve
(not really, but the kind of thing he'd say)

Re:Salt & Vinegar iPod (1)

akgw (896515) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181569)

Salt and Vinegar CHIPS you insensitive clod!

What's wrong with people? (4, Insightful)

Skadet (528657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181415)

Personally, I would have gone for a less blatant discount, or refrained from visiting the same store so soon afterwards.

Personally, I would have been honest.

Re:What's wrong with people? (2, Insightful)

xs650 (741277) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181434)

That wouldn't occur to some people.

Re:What's wrong with people? (1)

HardCase (14757) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181452)

But I'll bet that it would occur to most.

Re:What's wrong with people? (1)

Skadet (528657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181456)

+5, Sad but true

Re:What's wrong with people? - Lack of Preschool (1)

Jherek Carnelian (831679) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181472)

Personally, I would have been honest.

Personally, I can understand hypotheticals.
You learned about them before kindergarten, its called "make-believe."

Re:What's wrong with people? - Lack of Preschool (5, Informative)

Skadet (528657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181534)

Personally, I can understand hypotheticals.

Apparently not. The submitter's statement was -- to paraphrase in order to highlight the hypothetical even more blatently:
Had I been in this kid's shoes, I would have committed the same crime in a different way which would have resulted in a higher probability of not getting caught.

I replied that had I been in his shoes, I would have not committed a crime at all -- an additional hypothetical.

There were a few hypotheticals in there, you missed at least one. Back to kindergarden for you!

Personally... (0, Redundant)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181416)

"Personally, I would have gone for a less blatant discount, or refrained from visiting the same store so soon afterwards." Personally, I wouldn't steal said iPods in the first place.

Re:Personally... (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181442)

Hahah.. I'm literally 1 second late in hitting submit and I get down modded! Damn you person above me with the slightly shorter sentence!

Metamod Redundant... (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181562)

I metamod Redundants unfair for this very reason. The Slashdot moderation system is seriously broken.

Haha hilarious (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181417)

The best part of this story is the whining by the guy who was busted. What a bitch!

"I will NEVER EVER DO THIS EVER AGAIN and I am once more terribly sorry," Baldino wrote in a statement for police. "Please let me go for I am terribly sorry!!! I'm only a kid! Help me out. I just want to go home. I did this not knowing of the serious penalty that lies behind it. Please! Please! Please!"

"I am extremely sad now, and I just want to go to bed," he wrote. "Please let me sleep in my own bed tonight."

Too bad, pansy. Do the crime, do the time. God I hope this guy gets raped by a big black guy named Bubba. Fucking college weenies.

Re:Haha hilarious (2, Interesting)

fiddlesticks (457600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181443)

why are slashdotters so obsessed with prison rape?

Re:Haha hilarious (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181497)

It's the only means by which they can envision getting any. /predictable

Office Space (2, Funny)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181556)

Office Space
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0151804/ [imdb.com]

JUDGE
And now the sentence for these heinous crimes committed against Initech.

I hereby sentence you, Michael Bolton and Samir Na...Ananajibad...to a term of no less than four years in federal-pound-me-in-the-ass-prison.

Peter Gibbons, you've lead a trite and meaningless life. And you're a very bad person.

Re:Haha hilarious (4, Insightful)

toddbu (748790) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181450)

I think that he should be happy he didn't get caught in Singapore. I understand that their caning punishment [pekingduck.org] isn't very pleasant.

Re:Haha hilarious (1)

Bahwoot (925827) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181493)

I think they cut of hands over there if you steal.

Re:Haha hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181535)

Okay, you beat me to it. (No pun intended. I'm just a kid.)
I was just going to comment that this was nothing a good caning couldn't solve.

Re:Haha hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181459)

"Please let me sleep in my own bed tonight."

Hah ha! He knows what is coming to him. At 19 you are not a kid anymore, so it's the chokey-hole for you. Bet those "cheap"/"free" iPods seem a pretty high cost now :)

I want my mommyyyyy! (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181604)

The sad thing is that judging by the large number of people in US prisons, they don't seem to help. My guess is that many people see the prisons as holiday resorts - a place to get a warm shower, a real bed with a mattress and a blanket and 3 square meals a day.

similar story (2, Interesting)

jollyroger1210 (933226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181422)

A few weeks ago someone screwed up at a gas station and the Premium gas was $.239 instead of $2.39. This was an attendants fault.

Re:similar story (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181510)

And nobody notified the station manager until a news crew came by to interview him.

People will take advantage where they can, but printing up fake labels crosses a moral line for most people.

Re:similar story (1)

meowsqueak (599208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181581)

This happened recently in New Zealand - a petrol (gas) station attendant accidentally put the decimal place in the wrong position. After a few days, the mistake was discovered but not before some 50 people had taken clear advantage of it. The owner appealed to the local population to own up and offered an amnesty. A few took it up but most did not. The rest were traced through their EFTPOS records or security camera and are facing criminal charges.

The interesting thing is that a price typo is not sufficient to force a sale. The seller is always permitted to decide whom they wish to sell to, and at what price. What is illegal is to intentionally advertise a sale price that you will not meet, which isn't the case in this situation. I'm surprised people don't realise this - price slip-ups do not entitle you to anything.

Re:similar story (1)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181550)

I don't see how a screw up by an attendant and an intentional price switch by this kid are at all similar, unless the gas station attendant "accidentally" mispriced the gas for his own benefit, and then failed to reset the price afterwards.

Akaihiryuu (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181572)

That's very easy to mistakenly do with the way gas station prices work. I used to work at one, and the manager did that accidentally. I forget exactly what the price was supposed to be, something like $1.79. Anyway, the console used to do that didn't have a decimal point, and the price is always something like $1.799. So you have to type 1799 on the keypad to get the right price. She accidentally put in 179 instead of 1799, so the price became $0.179. We caught the mistake after the first person got gas after that. I'd believe that it was an honest mistake as opposed to a crooked employee.

Some people are just plain stupid (4, Insightful)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181425)

$4.99 for a $150 Ipod? And why didn't the cashier notice? Of course, he tries to do it again, but the article doesn't say if it's the same Target. If it is, what a moron. Go to a different store (if you're so ethically declined).

Re:Some people are just plain stupid (3, Interesting)

PlayfullyClever (934896) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181480)

Perhaps you've never worked at such a fine retail establishment as Target, but as someone who has I will tell you that the cashier was most likely not stupid, he just simply didn't care. He doesn't get a bonus for catching theives like the guy with the $4.99 iPod, and after ringing up thousands for purchases for hours on end, day after day, he probably just got tired and didn't really notice the iPod ringing up cheap. Personally I never paid attention to what items were being purchased or what the computer said they cost. I just ran them over the scanner and gave change like the cash register told me to.

That being said, if this guy had any brains, he would have gone to a different store. At the end of the day, inventory gets taken and if items sold don't match up to cash in registers, there's a problem. His scheme could have (not definately, but there is a chance) been discovered, and then it would have been a simple matter of looking at the security tapes and seeing who the offender is. We had a similar incidence like this at our store when a woman rode a $500 bike out of the store while the security guard was one lunch brake (yeah, great security practices there huh?). We pulled the tapes and saw who it was, and sure enough, the same woman comes in a week later trying to shoplift stuff by putting it in her backpack. She was arrested in short order and we got the bike back soon enough too.

Just goes to show people don't become criminals because they're smart.

Re:Some people are just plain stupid (1)

Professor_UNIX (867045) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181563)

His scheme could have (not definately, but there is a chance) been discovered, and then it would have been a simple matter of looking at the security tapes and seeing who the offender is. What if the shopper is wearing a ski mask? Do you refuse to sell stuff to him?

Re:Some people are just plain stupid (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181580)

I was going to say, for $7.50 / hour plus marginal or no health plan and having to work doubly hard around holidays, the cashier is supposed to give a shit?

Re:Some people are just plain stupid (5, Informative)

dzarn (760066) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181530)

Yep, it was the same store. I live in Boulder, and we only have one Target. I'm tempted to swing by his dorm and ask him if he's always been this stupid, or was born that way....

Grammar Nazi (1)

john.mull (790526) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181545)

>>Go to a different store (if you're so ethically declined).

Might be better written as "Go to a different store if you are so unethically inclined."
[/nazi]

1.5 Million from switching bar codes? (-1, Flamebait)

Pizpump (897881) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181429)

That's horseshit. Wal-Mart most likely inflated that figure a vast amount to get more press. Fuck Wal-Mart. www.walmartmovie.com

From the article: (5, Funny)

dirtsurfer (595452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181430)

"I will NEVER EVER DO THIS EVER AGAIN and I am once more terribly sorry," Baldino wrote in a statement for police. "Please let me go for I am terribly sorry!!! I'm only a kid! Help me out. I just want to go home. I did this not knowing of the serious penalty that lies behind it. Please! Please! Please!"


Oh. Well, in that case, off you go.

Re:From the article: (3, Insightful)

Skater (41976) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181462)

I was going to comment on that, too. Sounds to me like he knew exactly what he was doing and had those lines rehearsed and ready. How does that Shakespeare line go? "Methinks he doth protest too much"?

Somewhat related: this isn't a new idea, of course. The bar codes make it a little harder, but I'm sure people have been swapping price stickers on items for as long as they've existed. I used to work in retail, and we once had a customer demand that we sell him something valued at $159 but marked with a $69.99 sticker (he'd taken it off something else).

Re:From the article: (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181490)

i know in texas (at least it was years ago) it was the law, if the retailer made a mistake in the price labelling, they had to abide by it. that was thrown out the window if it could be shown the customer put the tags on themselves of course.

The answer lies elsewhere on Slashdot (4, Funny)

Reaperducer (871695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181432)

You'd think that in the intervening months, other companies would guard against such shenanigans

They're working on it. It's called RFID. Soon only people with tinfoil hats will be able to shoplift.

Re:The answer lies elsewhere on Slashdot (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181451)

And it has to be *tin* foil, not that cheapo aluminum foil crap that's been floating around. I'm looking at YOU, Reynolds Wrap.

Re:The answer lies elsewhere on Slashdot (1)

HermanAB (661181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181575)

Yup, the nice thing is that they'll know the moment the shoplifter walks IN the door - hey, there comes Danny long fingers...

yet another OFN story (0, Flamebait)

painkillr (33398) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181440)

slashdot has turned into the master of OFN. any asshole sysadmin who websurfs could do a better job than you pricks

Nice attitude, submitter (4, Insightful)

Have Blue (616) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181441)

What happened to "Personally, I would have not considered committing fraud in the first place"?

Normal Attitude (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181542)

That is how the world works now. Its all about 'how can we scam someone'.

Welcome to the 21st century.

Re:Nice attitude, submitter (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181589)

Saying he could outsmart the person who was caught builds his ego more than saying he simply wouldn't do it.

Out in the real world... (3, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181445)

Busted, Baldino begged for a little yuletide forgiveness.
"I will NEVER EVER DO THIS EVER AGAIN and I am once more terribly sorry," Baldino wrote in a statement for police. "Please let me go for I am terribly sorry!!! I'm only a kid! Help me out. I just want to go home. I did this not knowing of the serious penalty that lies behind it. Please! Please! Please!"

Hey, kid...out in the real world, there are real world consequences. Your mom is not there to pick up the pieces.

That depends (1, Insightful)

Urusai (865560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181500)

If mom is Barbara Bush, you can fuck up everything you've ever done in life and never have to deal with the "real world", because Daddy can just buy you a new corporate, state, or federal job. In the words of Ambrose Bierce, "Wealth n. Impunity."

Playing the ignorance card (2, Interesting)

Scruffeh (867141) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181447)

The most laughable thing has got to be that the kid is pleading ignorance to the severity of his actions. Anyone with half a brain is going to realise that undercutting retailers by 100s of dollers is blatently stealing. To be honest though, I guess you have to be pretty daft to keep going back to the same place. 'I'm just a kid', give over, you're 19 son, grow up and accept your punishment!

His police statement (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181449)

"I will NEVER EVER DO THIS EVER AGAIN and I am once more terribly sorry," Baldino wrote in a statement for police. "Please let me go for I am terribly sorry!!! I'm only a kid! Help me out. I just want to go home. I did this not knowing of the serious penalty that lies behind it. Please! Please! Please!"

I'm guessing he has a MySpace account.

Of course, the real question is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181453)

...is there an Open Source equivalent of Barcode Magic that runs under Linux?

Don't feel too sorry... (1)

parawing742 (646604) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181457)

I almost felt sorry for the poor broke kid until I realized that he is buying expensive electronics. An iPod is not necessary to survive unless you're not "cool" enough.

old trick (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181464)

i saw this ten+ years ago when i worked for target. the trick then was to cut off a UPC for a procuct who's 8 character or whatever description was along the same lines of the thing you wanted to buy. tape it to the box of what you really wanted, and most cashiers wouldn't bother to look.

Re:old trick (1)

unfunk (804468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181507)

I once (in my brazen youth) just took the price sticker off one game (NBA Jam for $19) and swapped it for the price sticker on what I wanted (Pro Action Replay 2, $99) and got away with it... none of this fancy hi-tech foolery for me!

The real thieves... (5, Interesting)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181473)

...are usually the employees.

I knew a kid who worked at a Best Buy with a bunch of his friends. They all were caught months later running a register scam. They'd ring up a friend who bought maybe 6 CDs, a VCR and a TV. They'd "forget" to scan the TV, and the friend would roll right out with the helper employee (another scammer) and put the TV in a car. They did this for months and finally got caught.

Another scammer I met (who didn't do jail time) used to be in charge of returns. He would check returns for completeness, put it back together, reshrink wrap the item and stick it back on the floor. Oh, he also threw other expensive items in the box. His friend would come, buy the $19.99 big box radio, and walk out with hundreds of items. Since the item was shrink wrapped, no one caught on for months.

I thought of the barcode scan YEARS ago when I found a barcode scanner at a garage sale. This is pre-USB days. I messed with barcodes for weeks, and figured one could print barcodes onto a label and stick it on a box. I never did it (even though I am an anarchocapitalist and anti-government/anti-mercantilism, I would never steal), but I can't believe it took this long for stores to see the problem.

The solution is one-time use barcodes. It isn't as bad as you'd think for the big box stores. When a skid is received, it has two barcodes on the packing list: first code, last code. The employee scans both (say 1111183.17 and 1111183.234) and the system registers all the item codes and the unique codes. If the register scans a duplicate, there's a problem.

The other solution is already in place in Home Depot and grocery stores -- the self checkout. You can't buy an item without weighing it. I believe Best Buy and Circuit City are already starting to work on incorporating scale barcode scanners that weigh the item when they scan it.

I've considered starting a security company for ma-and-pa stores to battle these forms of theft. There are many ways a store can protect itself, but the best way is to have intelligent staff who aren't helping the thieves. Good luck there.

Re:The real thieves... (2, Informative)

alienw (585907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181525)

You can't buy an item without weighing it.

Unless you hit "Skip Bagging", that is. Which I always do for _all_ the items because the scales are very screwy. Nobody seems to care. Of course, there is usually a cashier who sees everything you are buying anyway.

Re:The real thieves... (1)

TheCarlMau (850437) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181526)

In my opinion the stores should have done a better job when hiring to prevent their employees from stealing. The problem is that people try to do things twice--or more. That's a problem with human nature. We tend to repeat the same thing over and over again because it worked and we liked the benefits. But, eventually somebody is going to notice.

Self-checkout (1)

tentimestwenty (693290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181579)

The self-checkout is not even close to fool-proof. If anything it's way easier to fool. I find they get confused at the slightest change in weight in your bag. You could easily scan a cheap item place it in the bag and then take the item out. When the machine starts yelling at you to put the item back in the bag you could easily put a more expensive item in instead. The key with all this is that slow, cautious clerks bring down theft. The more it's automated, the more nobody knows what's happening to the merchandise.

Re:The real thieves... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181582)

Except most self checkout machines have a button for "skip bagging" which when used does not require you to weigh the product.

"i just want to go to bed" (4, Funny)

chicagotypewriter (933271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181475)

In a follow-up statement to police, he wrote: "I am extremely sad now, and I just want to go to bed," he wrote. "Please let me sleep in my own bed tonight."

Well if you put it that way, sure, hop right out of jail and into your comfy bed.

what a great idea (1)

jmazzi (869663) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181484)

$10 says Jonathan Baldino is a marketing excutive at barcode magic ;)

Not as smart as they think... (5, Funny)

kefoo (254567) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181486)

This reminds me of my days as a pizza restaurant shift manager. A customer who thought he was brilliant cut out one of our logos from an ad and taped it onto a competitor's coupon. The delivery driver didn't recognize the coupon, and when he saw the tape he peeled it off in front of the customer who, of course, pleaded ignorance.

Dumber than you think. (4, Informative)

twitter (104583) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181601)

A customer who thought he was brilliant cut out one of our logos from an ad and taped it onto a competitor's coupon. The delivery driver didn't recognize the coupon, and when he saw the tape he peeled it off in front of the customer who, of course, pleaded ignorance.

The customer might have been ignorant. There are dirt bags who sell "discount" coupons, much like gift checks to the unwary. It sounds like a good deal for everyone, except the vouchers are little more than coppies made with some image manipulation program. The scam is prevalent in college towns with foreign students.

Other pranks have been committed like this without a profit motive. There have been several cases of people making bogus coupons and emailing them as chain spam. Store clerks often take them without knowing any better.

The silly world of coupons, gift cards and other marketing ploys invites this kind of abuse. That's why they are a stupid idea to begin with. An honest price well advertised is a better deal.

now im tempted (2, Interesting)

coolraul (936086) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181487)

to make my barcode with something that would ring up $100,000, just for kicks

Re:now im tempted (1)

jollyroger1210 (933226) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181524)

I can see some nasty pranks being pulled by /.ers. Stcik stickers for $100,000 products onto everything in sight, then when loser Mcgee walks in, buys product A, he gets a nasty surprise........i swear im not evil.

Apple are too expensive! (4, Funny)

skingers6894 (816110) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181509)

I can get an iRiver for $4.75 and it does OGG as well!

New generation.... (1)

lop367 (936126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181511)

On the old days ........ people only take the items out of the store in "low tech means" also changeing the tags in where barcodes where a dream but what can i wonder now... in todays hightech world. The robber brings the fight to the TAG... Scan and barcodeless. And what about the get away... just thinking than a laser printer will hide your tracks .... he is wrong. Security cams, guards, more trained employes.., and smart chips will keep us good custumers safe, paying the right price and not takeing the charge and loses of crime.

Dear Slashdot (5, Funny)

Comatose51 (687974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181512)

Dear Slashdot readers,

We at Target would like to thank all of you for publicize this story, but more importantly helping us stop these scams by turning Barcode Magic's web server into a pile molten metal. As you are all surely aware, a site that allows users to print up barcodes is up to no good and deserve to be "Slashdotted", to use the common parlance of our times. We thank you for your vigilante justice. Consider it as a service to all the shoppers at Target. The prevention of future scams will result in savings passed onto the our shoppers, and not into the pocket of our executives.

Sincerely, Target "Walmart, without all the Lower Class"

Anyone else read the article as a how-to? (5, Insightful)

ubergrits (885297) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181516)

TFA reads basically as a step-by-step guide to teach any-and-everyone how to (at least attempt to) pull off a similar barcode scam. From the googling for the name of the barcode software, to outlining his method for affixing the faux-UPCs to the box and then looking for relatively ignorant checkout cashiers to use...this article explains it all. Hell, it even mentions that the 'Barcode Magic' software has a 15-day free trial. My quetions: (1) How in the hell is that relevant to the article? and (2) How many kiddies are now going to read this, download the software, and start perpetrating their own scams? Sheesh...

Lord. (4, Insightful)

dswensen (252552) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181522)

"I will NEVER EVER DO THIS EVER AGAIN and I am once more terribly sorry," Baldino wrote in a statement for police. "Please let me go for I am terribly sorry!!! I'm only a kid! Help me out. I just want to go home. I did this not knowing of the serious penalty that lies behind it. Please! Please! Please!"

What a spoiled little punk. He didn't know stealing was against the law? He was old enough to come up with this scam and steal, and now suddenly he's just an innocent kid?

I say they give him the chair.

No, but seriously, the attitude of this kid sickens me. Do the crime, get ready to do the time. At 19, you're a little old to be whining like an adolescent.

Pitiful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181544)

From the article, here's his statement to the police:
"I will NEVER EVER DO THIS EVER AGAIN and I am once more terribly sorry," Baldino wrote in a statement for police. "Please let me go for I am terribly sorry!!! I'm only a kid! Help me out. I just want to go home. I did this not knowing of the serious penalty that lies behind it. Please! Please! Please!"

Cripes, if you're 19 years old you are a) not a kid, and b) should realize that it's not the penalty that makes an action wrong, it's the action itself

What an idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181552)

He should have asked Santa. That way, it's free and he won't be on Santa's "naughty" list.

Open Source to the Rescue! (3, Interesting)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181564)

It might not be quite as fancy, but there's a free and OSS PHP-based barcode maker called Barcode (which does work, and pretty well). I've used it in the past to steal^Wcreate barcodes for inventory at work.

Here's an implementation [barcodesinc.com] and here's the homepage [mribti.com] for the program.

An interesting aside is that if you have an LCD monitor, you can actually scan the barcode off the screen (at least with an older Symbol RS232 scanner I had).

My experiences at Fry's (5, Interesting)

Sigmund Dali (925077) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181578)

I worked at Fry's, and was actually lucky enough to catch somebody doing this trick. I say lucky because, besides for other draconian security measures in place at Fry's is a $50 bonus for catching someone shoplifting ($300 if it was an employee). Anyway, these scams are particularly clever because it requires very little in the form of "suspicious behavior" from the customer. All they have to do is put the package in the cart with the barcode up and casually place the sticker on it. Furthermore, since you can pretty much generate whatever you want on that, it can be difficult for the cashier to notice it, because the product could ring up as an item very similiar. For instance, the trick goes to purchase an iPod case for $10 and then take home the barcode and fiddle with it until you make a sticker with the same info on it. It rings up to the cashier as "iPod" something, and it takes a rather observant cashier to notice this. Very clever, indeed.

The only reason I caught him was because I noticed he kept peeling something off of the box, which was suspicious. Apparently, he had f'ed up the first sticker's application, and it was crooked, a dead giveaway.

Totally lame (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14181598)

It's not leet until you use a felt tip too modify the actual bar code. Fuck this printed sticker shit.

Too easy to create barcodes (5, Insightful)

garylian (870843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14181605)

Barcodes are fairly easy to create using just a PC and a decent quality laser printer.

If they took it to the extreme that you needed to have a certain font card (a nice DIMM or SIMM) to produce any barcode, it would slow folks down a whole lot. When you have to spend a hundred or two to get the font card, the price for entry will slow down the casual twit.

15 day free trial on that program. That part just cracks me up.
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