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Why is lying during refunding purchases considered theft?

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

In today’s consumer-driven society, it can be tempting to game the system for personal gain. Take, for instance, trying to refund an item. You could try to buy an item at a discount at one store, then try to refund it for its full, non-discounted price at another store to make a profit.

However, this practice – called refund fraud – isn’t only deceptive and unethical, but also illegal in Georgia.

What is refund fraud?

Refund fraud refers to the act of deceiving a retailer or merchant to obtain an unauthorized refund, exchange or credit. This can involve returning stolen merchandise, switching price tags or falsely claiming that an item is defective or was never received after an online purchase.

Under Georgia law, it’s against the law to knowingly obtain or attempt to obtain any refund, exchange or credit from a business establishment through fraud, false pretense or misrepresentation.

The penalties for refund fraud

The penalties for refund fraud in Georgia depend on the value of the refund, exchange, or credit obtained through fraudulent means. The penalties are:

  • Value of the fraudulent refund is $500 or less: The offense is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to $1,000 in fines and 12 months of imprisonment.
  • Value of the fraudulent refund is more than $500: The offense is a felony, punishable by up to $5,000 in fines and 10 years of imprisonment.

If the offender fraudulently refunded or attempted to fraudulently refund items taken from three separate stores within one county within seven days, and the aggregate value of the items is over $500, the offense is also a felony.

Refund fraud is a serious offense in Georgia, and individuals found guilty can face significant legal consequences. If you face charges, know that a conviction could potentially lead to months or years of prison. Discussing your case with a legal professional may help highlight possible defense options in court.


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