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A 27-yr-old Man from Santa Monica, California Sentenced to 5 years in Prison by the U.S. District Court in Seattle for An Organized Retail Theft Scheme Causing Over $664,000 in Damages



With every rental, he committed to bringing back the machine by a set date or facing a growing penalty. He recognized the consequences of not returning the machine with each rental - the possibility of legal action. Thomas used various debit cards to pay small rental deposits, but he and an accomplice froze the accounts to avoid payment.




Seattle – A 27-year-old Santa Monica, California man was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison for his organized retail theft scheme that caused more than $664,000 in damage, announced U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman. Jaylan Amir Thomas was arrested in May 2023. He pleaded guilty to wire fraud on December 5, 2023. At his sentencing hearing, U.S. District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez said Thomas “persisted in this crime spree after being arrested and charged in multiple jurisdictions.”


“Mr. Thomas recruited others to his criminal scheme, and thus altered the trajectory of their lives with criminal charges in various states,” said U.S. Attorney Gorman. “Despite advantages such as a stable home and college studies, Mr. Thomas chose fraud as his path and in the process created higher prices for consumers everywhere.”


In March 2022, Thomas was found to have organized a group that journeyed across the United States, making pit stops at various home improvement stores to rent out costly construction equipment such as jumping jack tampers and vibratory plate compactors, each worth between $1,500 and $2,000. To pull off this scheme, Thomas resorted to using over 150 counterfeit IDs and numerous fake phone numbers to deceive the stores into leasing him the equipment.


With every rental, he committed to bringing back the machine by a set date or facing a growing penalty. He recognized the consequences of not returning the machine with each rental - the possibility of legal action. Thomas used various debit cards to pay small rental deposits, but he and an accomplice froze the accounts to avoid payment. Stolen goods were transported in rental vans by Thomas and his associates. Subsequently, he sold the equipment on online platforms for approximately $700 each.





Thomas and his team managed to swipe over 480 pieces of equipment from 190 home improvement stores across 23 states.


The court demanded Thomas to cough up $664,161.50 to compensate the affected home improvement store.


Despite being arrested four times in three different areas for his involvement in the scam, Thomas remained undeterred. He would simply post bail and resume his fraudulent activities.


The crew successfully looted various equipment from stores in Federal Way, Tacoma, Vancouver, Covington, Longview, Bothell, Everett, Redmond, and Seattle.


Asking for a 51-month prison sentence, Assistant United States Attorney Lauren Watts Staniar wrote to the court, “Organized retail crime like Thomas’ thefts has a significant impact on our communities: An analysis from the Retail Industry Leaders Association estimates Washington retailers lost $2.7 billion to organized retail crime in 2021. Forbes Advisor ranked Washington as the number one state impacted by organized retail theft based on six metrics. Organized retail crime raises costs for consumers and threatens the safety of stores and employees.”


Judge Martinez noted that organized retail theft has been on the rise since the pandemic and costs U.S. residents some $30 billion a year.


“Mr. Thomas's multi-state retail theft scheme not only resulted in substantial financial losses for retailers but also highlighted the complex and widespread nature of organized retail crime,” said Special Agent in Charge Robert Hammer, who oversees HSI operations in the Pacific Northwest. “This orchestrated fraud operation, underscores the critical need for collaborative efforts, including robust public-private partnerships, to combat such threats effectively. Homeland Security Investigations played a pivotal role in unraveling this intricate network, emphasizing the importance of coordinated efforts between government agencies and private businesses in safeguarding communities from the pervasive impact of organized crime.”





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