Opinion: Lego fraud

POSTED: 05/30/12 10:11 PM

There seems to be no end to the ways people find to enrich themselves at the expense of someone else. In St. Maarten several companies found a niche market by producing forged documents for Brooks Tower residence permit applicants. In the slipstream of those companies, a construction company filled its pockets by putting people on its payroll who never worked there. (One could argue that the government is doing the same by allowing ghost civil servants to receive their paychecks while they never show up for work – but that’s another story).

Elsewhere, in California, Thomas Langenbach, a 47-year-old executive at German software firm SAP, created a rather pathetic but highly lucrative scam with Lego blocks.

Langenbach raided Target stores where he “bought” Lego packages at heavy discounts – not because the target store had them on offer, but because he put his own bar code stickers on the items, tricking cashiers into handing over the goods at rock bottom prices.

Langenbach then sold the stuff for a hefty profit on auction site eBay.

As these things go, the software executive became either greedy, careless or plain stupid by going time and again to the same target store. His hunger for Lego blocks did not go unnoticed and the store started keeping an eye on him. A couple of weeks ago he was caught red handed with his umpteenth purchase.

Police went to his villa in San Carlos where it found literally hundreds of Lego sets. Langenbach had also stuffed his place with his own Lego creations. In his car, the police found plastic bags filled with barcode stickers.

The executive was released on bail and now has some explaining to do at work. Retailers in the meantime have a new headache on their hands, because it is unlikely that Langenbach is the only shopper who came up with the idea to replace the barcode sticker on goods he wanted.

We have to admit, the thought of doing something similar crossed out devilish mind when we saw a cucumber in a local supermarket priced at something like $5.45. For one lousy cucumber! Instead of stealing from the supermarket – which is against our nature anyway – we decided to call it a draw by not letting the supermarket steal from us either. We left the cucumber where we found it.

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