A Maine man who bilked Home Depot and Lowe's stores out of tens of thousands of dollars worth of merchandise received his sentence in Bangor.

Who Was Sentenced?

It's a case that calls into question just how efficient those store self-checkout counters are, and how easy it would be to steal by using one. Aaron Hoster, 51, is sentenced to 33 months in prison for doing just that. He spent two years, from June 2021 to April 2023, defrauding multiple home improvement stores in Maine out of more than $51,000.

How Did the Scam Work?

According to the United States District Attorney, District of Maine, Hoster once purchased a $439 cordless finish nailer kit for just $19.98, after switching out the UPC for a price code from a trimmer line. In another example, he scanned a code for an $11.36 chrome-plated plastic tailpiece but was buying a powered drain cleaner valued at $429.

Had Hoster Committed Crimes Before This Scheme?

He was known to police with 29 criminal convictions when he started this ticket-switching scheme. In this particular scam, he committed 160 thefts in Maine, with additional thefts in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

U.S. District Judge John A. Woodcock said, at the sentencing, that Hoster had a 'full-time job' stealing.

You are causing the price of all goods to rise because people like you take what they haven't paid for. There were plenty of times you could have stopped but didn't because it was easy money.

Hoster pleaded guilty on September 11, 2023, to wire fraud and attempted wire fraud. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. In addition, Hoster is ordered to pay $57,593.19 in restitution.

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