Is it a crime to request a refund using a dubious receipt?

On Behalf of | Nov 16, 2023 | Theft & Property Crimes

It’s a customer’s right to be able to return any merchandise they’re not satisfied with for a refund, and all U.S. states have laws governing customer returns and refunds.

Customers can return items for a variety of reasons. Perhaps the customer is experiencing buyer’s remorse, or they were unhappy with the quality of the product. Or perhaps the clothes they purchased were the wrong size.

But some would abuse customer return and refund policies to make a quick buck. Called “return fraud,” this unscrupulous act involves using a stolen or forged receipt to return an item to a store, defrauding the merchant. Return fraud is such a widespread problem in America that according to a survey among retailers, for every $100 in returned merchandise in 2022, they lose $10.40 to fraud. Stores are losing billions to this scheme.

Return fraud is a crime in Florida; anyone convicted will face severe penalties.

Receipt fraud is a punishable offense

Per Florida law, any person who requests a merchandise or money refund through a fraudulently obtained receipt or fake receipt is guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree.

Meanwhile, anyone who manages to obtain merchandise, money, or anything of value through a fraudulently obtained or fake receipt is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree.

The penalties

A conviction for a misdemeanor of the second degree leads to up to 60 days of jail time and up to $500 in fines. But if a person is convicted of a misdemeanor of the first degree, it’s up to a year of prison and $1,000 in fines.

Refund fraud may seem like you’re gaming the retail system, but it’s considered a form of fraud and therefore a crime. Those who face charges for this offense shouldn’t take it lightly, and should carefully approach their defense in court.


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