Ohio man is sentenced for defrauding Staples

An Ohio man was sentenced Monday for defrauding the Staples office supply chain of about a quarter of a million dollars through a scheme in which he returned merchandise for more money than it was worth.

Stephen A. Esway, 36, of Canton, Ohio, was sentenced to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay $245,000 in restitution to Staples, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Esway was convicted on a wire fraud charge in October.

Federal prosecutors said Esway bought about $65,000 in merchandise from Staples stores from 2001 to 2008. But Esway received credit card refunds totaling more than $307,000, the U.S. Attorney's Office said.

The attorney's office said Esway got receipts for full version software, duplicated the receipts, then bought less-expensive educational versions of the same software. He applied the Universal Product Code from the full version to the educational version and resealed the box. When Esway returned with the receipt for the original product, cashiers scanned the altered UPC on the box, which appeared to match the product.

In Kentucky, Esway bought merchandise from stores in Kenton and Boone counties. He also used the scheme in 16 other states.