DANVERS — A Beverly woman will spend six months on probation after admitting that she engaged in a series of fraudulent returns, swapping cheaper items for pricey designer duds at a Marshall's store in Danvers last fall.
Over a four-month period, Erica Cancelliere, 31, of 137 Colon St., purchased high-end and designer merchandise on the chain's new website, including boots valued at nearly $700, $400 heels, and a leather pillow, then went into the store with either old items that looked similar, or items purchased at a lower price, to "return" them for a refund, prosecutor Dan Oste told a Salem District Court judge Thursday.
The scheme netted her more than $2,200 in merchandise, said the prosecutor.
On Sept. 28, Cancelliere spent $1,784 on the website, purchasing two pairs of designer high heels and a pair of boots, as well as some children's clothing. Two weeks later, she went to the store and returned the boots as well as a pair of heels, receiving a refund of $1,000. The heels turned out to be a different pair than the ones she'd paid $400 for online.
Meanwhile, she had already ordered another pair of boots and a jar of face cream, totaling almost $900, then went to the store on Oct. 18 with a cheaper pair of boots, which she'd purchased at T.J. Maxx for $99. She returned the cheaper boots and received a refund of $780, the price of the designer boots she had purchased online.
Cancelliere ordered more merchandise in late October, including one order that consisted of a wallet, a scarf, and some beauty products, totaling more than $700. She then returned a different wallet and scarf and got a refund of $446.
One order in November included a leather pillow and a gray scarf; she later returned a black scarf to the store and received a $233 refund.
Other orders included a pair of steel shears valued at more than $100; she returned a less expensive pair and got a refund; and women's and children's clothing, according to a police report.
Framingham-based TJX Companies, which operates Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Home Goods and several other stores, has also been looking into prior returns by Cancelliere, Oste told Judge Jane Prince.
Danvers police met with the company's loss prevention and fraud investigators, who had quickly identified Cancelliere from the information on her Marshalls online account.
During Thursday's hearing, Cancelliere admitted to sufficient facts on a charge of larceny by single scheme. Prosecutors were willing to recommend a continuation without a finding in the case, given Cancelliere's lack of a prior record and willingness to pay restitution immediately, but asked that the case remain open for a year.
Cancelliere's attorney, Anthony Rossi, asked the judge to continue the case without a finding for one month and then dismiss it.
"It's basically a glorified shoplifting scheme," said Rossi, who had also hoped to spare his client from having a record.
Rossi said his client, who has a masters degree, has a three-month-old at home.
"She's really embarrassed," said the lawyer.
Prince offered to continue the case without a finding for six months, putting Cancelliere on unsupervised probation, with a condition that she pay restitution immediately and stay out of all TJX-owned stores during that time.
Cancelliere, who as she left court was carrying a Louis Vuitton Neverfull tote currently offered on that brand's website for $1,470, paid the restitution shortly after the hearing.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at @SNJulieManganis.