A Missouri man has pleaded guilty after authorities said he defrauded Lowe’s business customers of more than $1 million.
The 44-year-old man from St. Louis County said he and others obtained stolen information — names, phone numbers, addresses and credit card account numbers for business customers — from April 2020 through November 2021, according to a March 23 news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Missouri.
He then used the information to access the businesses credit card accounts and apply for more credit cards, according to the plea agreement.
The man’s defense attorney told McClatchy that his client is “deeply regretful” and “has a real level of empathy for the victims.”
He said his client was unable to find employment after being released from prison, keeping him on a “tragic trap of criminal behavior.” His client pleaded guilty because he wanted to take responsibility for his actions, according to the attorney.
The stolen business accounts were serviced by Synchrony Bank, authorities said.
“After gaining access to the accounts, (the defendant) made telephone calls to Synchrony Bank, changed the address and/or contact telephone numbers on the accounts to reflect addresses not actually associated with the account holders, and then had additional cards issued on the accounts and sent to the new address, all without the consent and knowledge of the account holder businesses,” authorities said.
He and the others then charged about $1.6 million to the credit cards, authorities said. The credit card accounts were linked to about 40 businesses that had credit accounts with Lowe’s.
McClatchy News reached out to Lowe’s and Synchrony Bank on March 24 and did not immediately hear back.
The man pleaded guilty to two counts of bank fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, records show. With each charge, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. He’ll also be ordered to pay restitution.
His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 29.
Others involved in the scheme have not been identified by authorities, according to the plea agreement.