(WKBN) – A Connecticut man was charged with cheating Home Depot stores out of $300,000 with door-return scams.

Federal prosecutors say 26-year-old Alexandre Henrique Costa-Mota, of West Hartford, Connecticut was given nearly $300,000 in fraudulent Home Depot credit by walking into stores in several states, taking expensive doors and then returning them without a receipt.

The practice took place at stores in Pennsylvania as well as in other states.

A similar large theft was reported locally. Just recently, an out-of-town theft crew was caught in Boardman. In that case, the suspects were taking large quantities of circuit breakers. All of the items taken by the suspects were returned to Home Depot, consisting of 84 various items totaling $5,313.73, reports state.

In the Boardman case, there were two adult suspects and one juvenile. Other suspects ran away. Ion Laurentiu is being held without bond in the Mahoning County Jail. The other adult suspect was listed as John Doe. Both men told authorities they do not speak English and identified themselves as Romanian citizens. They were driving a car with Arizona plates.

Costa-Mota is being held without bail after a judge entered not-guilty pleas on his behalf this week in federal court in Rhode Island to wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, the U.S. attorney’s office in Providence said in a statement Wednesday.

Investigators say that Costa-Mota dressed to appear like a contractor and entered the stores empty-handed before he picked up the doors and returned them. He was given a store credit that he later redeemed at other stores, prosecutors said.

Home Depot stores in Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey were involved. Costa-Mota was given about 370 fraudulent store credits between June 2021 and February 2022, prosecutors said.

Home Depot’s loss prevention continues to combat a rise in retail theft. Organized crime rings targeting the chain and others like it is an escalating problem. Some sell the stolen items online or return them to stores for credit as in the Rhode Island case.

According to the Nation Retail Federation (NRF), the frequency of these incidents is escalating, and it’s impacting the customer shopping experience. It says with crime rings, the act is not just shoplifting, it is planned and executed by a larger criminal enterprise. The organized crime groups are “highly sophisticated” and their theft can top hundreds of thousands of dollars.

NRF says organized theft is growing in scope and complexity and making it harder for retailers and law enforcement to stop it, saying it’s a $1 billion problem.