Kenneth Cassidy opened 173 fraudulent accounts, walking away with $2.6 million dollars in products, at Lowe's home improvements stores in Amherst, Orchard Park and across the country, according to federal investigators.
In a scheme lasting more than four years, investigators say Cassidy targeted Lowe's locations in WNY and elsewhere in the country by opening pre-funded escrow accounts with counterfeit checks.
Cassidy allegedly also used fake business names like Simple Repair Service, New Repair and Statewide Repair and other false information on applications to open those escrow accounts, known as Lowe's Accounts Receivable (LAR).
Natalie Simpson is a professor at the University at Buffalo School of Management and she says while companies are getting smarter at detecting fraud, the people committing crimes are taking advantage of new loopholes everyday.
"A lot of times companies that are spread across very very complex networks--a very natural vulnerability of theirs is they lose a certain sense of situational awareness of themselves as a whole," Simpson explained. "It's not a perfect system. As IT is evolving there are new opportunities evolving, new gaps opening then they're closed again."
According to court paperwork, it would typically take 10 days for Lowe's to learn an account had been opened with a fraudulent check or check with insufficient funds. Cassidy operated the scheme from June 2012 until December 2016, according to prosecutors.
Federal investigators allege Cassidy would purchase items at various Lowe's stores until the account was closed by the company or until the account funds were used up.
A Federal Grand Jury indicted Cassidy on one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and four counts of wire fraud on June 13 before a judge in Buffalo.