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Man arrested as part of ring in Home Depot thefts

The Secret Service has arrested a Queens man on charges of being involved in a ring that has been using credit cards to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Home Depots on Long Island and throughout the Northeast, according to officials.

Stacy Bennett, 29, of Queens Village, was part of a scheme in which at least one cashier at a Home Depot on Long Island was paid between $150 and $200 per Home Depot customer credit card number, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Sullivan.

Bennett would then use the card numbers to purchase Home Depot gift cards, officials said.

Bennett was charged with purchasing the numbers of twelve credit cards and then using them to buy $130,000 worth of gift cards.

But at a bail hearing for Bennett Wednesday in federal District Court in Central Islip, Assistant U.S. Attorney Lara Treinis Gatz said the government believes that Bennett's scheme was much more extensive, and involved close to a $1 million in fraudulent purchases of gift cards made at Home Depot stores from Chicago to New York and along the East Coast.

Bennett's attorney, federal public defender Tracy Gaffney, declined to comment after the hearing. Bennett was not required to enter a plea.

U.S. Magistrate E. Thomas Boyle released Bennett on a $250,000 bail package supported by a number of his relatives, and also ordered him to be electronically monitored, pending future hearings. If convicted on charges of credit-card fraud, Bennett could face up to 10 years in prison.

Officials did not release the names of the others believed to be involved in the ring or the store locations, citing the ongoing investigation.

Jennifer King, a spokeswoman for Home Depot in Atlanta, declined to comment because of the investigation. But she said that the 12 customers whose credit-card numbers had been illegally obtained were not liable for the purchases of the gift cards.

A complaint filed by a Secret Service agent in federal court said that Bennett would max out the amount of credit available on the credit card numbers he purchased for the $150 to $200.

As part of the investigation, Secret Service agents working with Home Deport provided an unidentified cooperating witness with additional credit card numbers that had been created for the investigation. Those card numbers were used to purchase $12,000 worth of gift cards, the agent said.

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