Barbara Aqueveque of Broward County, Florida was arrested after authorities accused her of replacing UPC codes on items at various Target and Walmart stores, according to press reports. Aqueveque, 34, was booked into Broward County Jail on charges of grand theft, dealing in stolen property, and organized scheme to defraud. She has since paid her bail bond of $9,500 and is now out of police custody. It is not yet known whether she has retained a private criminal defense attorney.
Police claim they have surveillance footage from various Target and Walmart locations showing Aqueveque placing low-price UPC codes on expensive children’s toys, then paying for them at checkouts. She allegedly saved as much as $90 per transaction by replacing bar codes – and investigators claim there were a lot of transactions. Authorities apparently believe that Aqueveque spent time making illegal purchases at three to four stores a day, spending about $80 per day. Aqueveque allegedly did this every day for 18 months. It does not appear as though the stores have commented on the allegations, and it is not known whether loss prevention staff at one of the outlets alerted officials to the alleged thefts.
After purchasing the toys, Aqueveque purportedly sold the items she purchased on Ebay for more than the heavily discounted price she got them for. The detectives investigating the case said that Aqueveque had an online store on Ebay where she sold the stolen merchandise. At its best, officials claim her scheme netted $1,000 in profits a day, up to $30,000 a month.
Alex Iwaskewycz, a Lauderhill Police Detective, told reporters that Miss Aqueveque would spend “typically less than $10 for each item that she would switch the label with.” These items apparently included toys such specialized Lego kits (Star Wars Millennium Falcon Lego kits and Queen Anne’s Revenge Lego kits, for example) that normally sell for $100-$150 each. Surveillance evidence of this reportedly includes a video captured at the Sawgrass Mills Mall Target store, where detectives claim Aquaveque can be seen replacing a UPC label on an expensive toy before going up to the register to purchase it. In at least one of the tapes, Aqueveque can be seen shopping for toys and replacing labels with her child in tow, sources claim.
Detectives say that the video surveillance is not all that law enforcement has to incriminate Aqueveque. “She used the same debit card in every transaction she completed in all the Targets, and as you can see, every item is $6.99,” Iwaskewycz apparently told the press. Aside from the discrepancies on her debit records, Aqueveque also had her bank account infiltrated by police. Aqueveque allegedly deposited the money she made on eBay directly into the account, which was subpoenaed in 2011.
“There were certain months that she had $30,000 coming into her bank account, directly from PayPal, per month,” Detective Iwaskewycz claimed. It is not clear whether officials explored the possibility that Aqueveque was getting the funds through another outlet. Reports do note that she does not currently have an unusual amount of money in the account.
After acquiring a search warrant for Aqueveque’s Sunrise home, police claim they found large quantities of toys. It is not known whether they can prove that these toys were purchased illegally.