LCSO: Faked receipts used in fraud scheme

The Liberty County Sheriff's Office has been investigating Christopher Coker, 27, for an alleged criminal conspiracy.

March 29, 2011 3:55:20 PM PDT
A Liberty County man has been arrested, accused of creating hundreds of fake receipts to steal merchandise from Walmart stores.

Investigators are saying this is one of the most elaborate schemes they've seen using computer software and other electronics to walk out the door of three area Walmarts with about $100,000 in merchandise.

Shoppers like Joy Murphy leave Walmart and load up the family SUV, with bags and receipt in hand.

"This is authentic," she said.

But it was hundreds of fake receipts, looking nearly identical to hers, that the Liberty County Sheriff's Office says 27-year-old Christopher Coker fabricated to swindle Walmart out of about $100,000 worth of merchandise.

"We believe he was not only using multiple computer programs, but he also had access to a scanner and thermal imaging device that would enable him to print those types of receipts on the same type of paper that is used by most Walmart stores," said Liberty County Sheriff's Office Capt. Rex Evans.

Coker, detectives say, used the elaborate forged receipts to grab expensive merchandise off the shelf, get by door greeters who checked his receipts and items, to then sell the goods for cash on the street.

"TV's stereos, iPods, things to that effect," Evans said.

Investigators say Coker's area of operation included Walmart stores in Liberty, Crosby and Cleveland.

His scam came to an end Monday night with a brief struggle when a special investigative unit, tracking him for weeks, arrested him walking out with a fake receipt for a large air compressor.

"It's a pretty big deal, because it's a small town," Murphy said.

It's residents of the small Liberty town that wished Coker had put his ingenuity to better use.

"With the knowledge and the tenacity that he has, he could have been very fortunate in the business world, I believe," Evans said.

Coker is being held at the Liberty County Jail on several charges including fraud, escape and possession of a controlled substance. More charges are expected. Investigators say they also anticipate more arrests.