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Cops: J.C. Penney Scammer Caught

Man devised scheme to buy and return items to eventually make money, cops said.

Eric Willis is charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud. (Photo: NCPD)
Eric Willis is charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud. (Photo: NCPD)

A Brooklyn man, who for nearly four years scammed J.C. Penney by buying and returning items to make cash, was finally caught at Roosevelt Field Thursday, according to Nassau County Police.

Beginning in February 2009, Eric Willis, 50, of Brooklyn, schemed to make money by buying and returning items multiple times from J.C. Penney stores to ultimately receive cash refunds, detectives stated.

Willis would go to J.C. Penney and switched price tags on items to buy them at a lower price, police said. He would then return those items to a different store without a receipt and get a gift card for the original higher price of the item, cops said. Willis then used the gift card and additional cash to pay for more items so that his receipt would show a cash transaction, cops said. Finally, detectives said Willis would return all the items for a full cash refund.

Cops said Willis' scheme extended to J.C. Penney stores across the New York metro area.

On Thursday, Willis was seen by store security in J.C. Penney at Roosevelt Field Mall and was arrested at 8:24 p.m. by NCPD at the scene.

Willis is charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree scheme to defraud. He will be arraigned Friday at First District Court in Hempstead.

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