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[June 17, 2014]
Hollywood couple accused in $50,000 theft through online auction site [Sun Sentinel :: ]
(South Florida Sun Sentinel (FL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 18--A Hollywood couple are accused of defrauding eBay members out of more than $50,000 worth of property in about a week, according to the Broward Sheriff's Office.
Alberto Delgado, 22, and Karen Cypress, 25, exploited the online auction site and major retailers to get gift cards, a designer handbag, gold and diamond jewelry and watches, cellphones and plane tickets, detectives said. With proceeds from the scheme, they even made a $21,000 cash deposit on a 2012 Chevrolet Suburban, investigators said.
"Apparently, they discovered some sort of a loophole," Broward Assistant State Attorney Kristin MacKenzie told Judge John "Jay" Hurley at Tuesday's bond hearing for Cypress.
"The sellers sent out [some of] those items before [the scheme] was discovered," she said.
Investigators with eBay, Best Buy and other retail organizations contacted the Broward Sheriff's Office when correspondences, Internet addresses, phone records and Facebook photographs led them to the couple living in the Hollywood area.
Delgado and Cypress had been shopping online using a method of payment that required several days for financial verification, officials said. Meanwhile, they were urging sellers to ship their items as soon as possible before the sellers realized what was happening, investigators said.
"If your bank does not have sufficient funds, it takes approximately three days for eBay or PayPal to determine that there [are] insufficient funds," MacKenzie said.
Cypress was arrested Monday and Delgado was jailed March 20. Each has been released on $101,000 bond. They face charges that include operating an organized scheme to defraud and conspiracy, jail records showed.
Rick Castillo, speaking on their behalf as their attorney, was at the bond hearing for Cypress on Tuesday.
"At the moment, the facts are in dispute and I have to engage in discovery before I know what happened," he said.
Cypress opened her eBay account a year ago, but Delgado opened his eBay account in 2010, according to court documents.
In a three-year span, their purchases were considered average. However, MacKenzie told a judge, the couple's spending on eBay increased dramatically during six days in June 2013. They made more than $54,400 in purchases, she said.
By the end of June 2013, Delgado's bank account showed $52,445.33 in withdrawal transactions -- but there was a problem. Delgado's account had little to no funds by that time. Records show that the prior month, the balance of his bank account was only $2.60.
"They were able to obtain [more than] $50,000 worth of merchandise with, essentially, an empty bank account," MacKenzie told the judge.
PayPal, eBay, and banks repeatedly inquired about payments while Delgado and Cypress exchanged hundreds of emails, text messages and phone calls with their creditors to have their repeatedly frozen accounts reinstated, officials said.
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