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You could say law authorities built a case, brick by brick, against a software executive accused of ripping off retailers by swapping bar codes on expensive and popular Lego building blocks. Groan.
The Silicon Valley software exec had a simple method of operation: Go into a Target store, cover the original bar code on a Lego package with his own bar code sticker, then purchase the product — at a greatly reduced price.
He was a Lego hobbyist — but he also sold an estimated 2,100 packages of Lego on eBay, worth thousands of dollars, under the name tomsbrickyard.
Let’s be honest here. Lego sets are no simple kids’ toy.
There are thousands of people who are in Lego clubs, compete in Lego leagues, and visit LegoLand theme parks. Lego sets are modeled on vehicles, buildings, cities, events and more; they also leave a lot of room for individual creativity.
They also have a talent for lurking on floors, where they’re found only by adults walking through the area in the dark in their bare feet. (Ouch.)
Anyway, the modus operandi for the high-tech Lego hustler was relatively basic. Examples of his bounty:
- He paid $49 for a Millenium Falcon (Star Wars) kit that was priced at $279, and
- he paid $35 for a Anakin Skywalker set (again, Star Wars) that was priced at $90.
He didn’t sell everything he swiped.
When police searched his California home, they found “hundreds” of sets and many Lego projects he created.
In his car, they found eight baggies of bogus bar code stickers.
He was nabbed when Target store officials grew wise to his ways and called police after one of his illegal purchases. He was charged with felony burglary and freed on $10,000 bail.
This isn’t the first time something like this has happened.
A Reno man was arrested in 2005 after reaping nearly $200,00 from changing prices with phony bar codes on Lego sets.