The Cleveland Plain Dealer profiles Dimorio McDowell, an Ohio convict who ran a $1 million steal-to-order theft business out of his prison cell with little more than a cell phone and a lot of chutzpa. For 17 hours a day, McDowell directed a team of Cleveland shoppers who used credit fraud to buy big-ticket items–stainless steel refrigerator, hardwood flooring, laptop computer–and sell them at half the store price to people who placed orders with the ring.
McDowell was serving time for credit card fraud in New Jersey while directing the operation. It came unraveled when a Cleveland-area detective, Dan Lance, turned a theft from a local Lowe’s store into a major fraud investigation involving the U.S. Justice Department. The case ultimately smashed an organized retail theft ring that preyed on big–box stores across Northeast Ohio and revealed how much damage a flimflam man can do with a phone, determination and years with nothing to do but steal.