Editor's Note: This story has been updated.
A woman living in Virginia made more than $1 million returning fake designer handbags to high-end department stores for refunds, according to charging documents.
Praepitcha Smatsorabudh, who lives in Arlington, is charged with wire fraud.
Smatsorabudh bought pricey, designer handbags from department stores, then bilked those stores out of money by returning fake, less expensive handbags to the same stores for refunds, according to prosecutors with the Department of Homeland Security. She resold the legitimate designer handbags for a profit. In charging documents, federal investigators said the designer handbags she purchased cost an average of $2,000.
Homeland Security, which is leading the investigation, said it traced suspicious purchases to Smatsorabudh’s apartment along South Greenbrier Street in Arlington and to her workplace in Fort Washington, Maryland.
In at least one case detailed in court records, investigators said Smatsorabudh purchased an authentic ruby red Celine Ring handbag from a department store in October. Within weeks, she returned an inauthentic bag, they said. She then posted a Celine Ring handbag on eBay in December.
Smatsorabudh’s attorney declined to comment to News4 after her court appearance Friday. A federal judge in Alexandria ordered her held until the next scheduled court appearance Wednesday.