Cops: Man scammed J.C. Penney stores for 4 years

Eric L. Willis, 50, of Brooklyn, was charged Eric L. Willis, 50, of Brooklyn, was charged on Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, with larceny and fraud charges for scamming J.C. Penney stores in the metropolitan area for more than four years, Nassau police said. Photo Credit: NCPD

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A Brooklyn man scammed J.C. Penney stores for more than four years, switching price tags on items, returning the items to different stores for gift cards, and then flipping those cards in another return for cash, Nassau County police said Friday.

Eric L. Willis, 50, of 1412 New York Ave., is charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud, police said.

At Willis' arraignment Friday at First District Court in Hempstead, Judge Eric Bjorneby ordered the suspect held on $20,000 bond, according to online court records. His next court appearance is scheduled for Tuesday.

Police said that between February 2009 and this month Willis switched price tags on items at several J.C. Penney department stores in the metropolitan area in order to purchase them at a lower price.

He then would return the items without a receipt to another J.C. Penney store; in exchange he would get gift cards for the items at the higher price, police said.

Finally, Willis would then purchase items with the gift card and add additional cash purchases to the transactions, police said.

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This resulted in a receipt that reflected a cash transaction. All items were then returned for a full-cash refund, police said.

Nassau police arrested Willis Thursday after he was seen by security at the store in the Roosevelt Field mall at 630 Old Country Rd. in East Garden City.

Police did not say how much J.C. Penney lost in the alleged scheme.

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