A Minneapolis woman who worked as a manager at Menards in Oakdale has been charged with swindling the store out of more than $5,000 by processing fraudulent customer returns.
Heather Renee Mathews, 26, is charged with theft by swindle, a felony with a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
According to the criminal complaint, a Menards security manager contacted Oakdale police in late September and told them that Mathews had been processing fraudulent returns.
Mathews, who began working for Menards in late March, conducted 28 fraudulent cash refunds between March 20 and Aug. 14, according to store records. The security manager told police he discovered a large number of refunds that had been conducted at registers rather than the customer service desk, and reviewed surveillance video for the refunds.
The manager said Mathews processed the returns when no customers were present, paying out most of the returns in cash, even when some of the purchases were made via credit card. The security manager found that 24 of the 28 items that Mathews claimed had been returned were missing from the store’s inventory.
Investigators determined that Mathews swindled the store out of $5,005, according to the complaint.
Mathews is free on bond. She is scheduled to make an initial appearance on the charge Jan. 15 in Washington County District Court.