POLK COUNTY, Fla. – Two teenagers are accused of changing direct deposit information so that paychecks that were meant for Lowe’s employees were instead deposited into accounts they controlled, according to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputies said the investigation began on Sept. 22 when the manager at Lowe’s on Lake Highlands Road in Lakeland notified them about possible payroll fraud.
They learned that 19-year-old Solomon Smith of Lakeland and 18-year-old Garrett Sivley, both of whom were employees at Lowe’s until they were recently fired, accessed payroll accounts and changed the direct deposit information so that payroll funds would be transferred to bank accounts they controlled, a news release said.
Smith and Sivley would then move the money to cash apps and use it to buy cellphones they sold on eBay, according to authorities.
Deputies said the two suspects stole $11,795 from three employees’ payroll accounts. Records show no customer information was accessed during the data breach.
According to the report, Smith also used 30 identification cards stolen during 20 car burglaries earlier this year in Lakeland to “create fraudulent banking accounts, email addresses, address changes, ecommerce accounts, or to change banking information.”
“It is amazing that these two criminals come from nice families with nice homes. Apparently they thought they were above the law. I can tell you that is not the case, and we will do everything we can to hold them accountable,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd said.
Smith is facing a long list of charges that includes money laundering, 10 counts of defrauding a financial institution, three counts of grand theft with a firearm, 16 counts of burglary and more than a dozen other charges.
Grand theft and fraud are among the charges Sivley is facing.