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Man suspected of defrauding more than 1,000 Walmarts arrested

A man suspected of defrauding more than 1,000 Walmart stores across the country by purchasing items, stealing parts, then returning them was arrested in Yuma, Arizona on suspicion of trying to pull off the same scam at a store there, officials said.

The scam may have cost the retail giant about $1.3 million, the Yuma Police Department said in a press release issued Friday night.

The man, identified as Thomas Frudaker, 23, was arrested Wednesday after police were alerted by employees at a Yuma store after they noticed a suspicious transaction, said Edith Ruiz, a spokeswoman for the Yuma police.

Officers arrived at the store and made contact with Frudaker, Ruiz said.

Frudaker went to the Walmart to return a computer he had purchased earlier. Police believe Frudaker had removed parts from the computer before attempting to make the return, Ruiz said.

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An investigation revealed that Frudaker is suspected of doing the same thing earlier the same day at another Walmart located in Yuma. Police later determined he is suspected of pulling the same scam in more than 1,000 Walmart stores across the U.S. over an 18-month period, Ruiz said.

Police did not provide further details on how the scheme worked but said the returns caused an estimated $1.3 million loss to Walmart.

Frudaker was arrested and booked into the Yuma County Adult Detention Facility on charges including fraudulent schemes, criminal damage and theft, and was held on a $40,000 bond, according to jail booking records.

Information on additional charges he could face was not immediately available.

Walmart officials could not be reached Friday night.

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