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Friday, October 23, 2020

Leesburg Lowe’s employee allegedly admits to taking cash from phony refunds

Alison Marie Downs

A Eustis woman was jailed late Friday afternoon after being accused of stealing from the Leesburg store where she worked.

Leesburg Police officers responded to the Lowe’s Home Improvement store, located at 9540 U.S. Hwy. 441 in Leesburg, where they were told by a district manager that 41-year-old Alison Marie Downs allegedly had been completing fraudulent refunds for the last couple of years. The district manager told officers the crime had been discovered during a cash shortage investigation that was launched on Aug. 21, a police report states.

Officers were told that Downs had made 15 fraudulent transactions since July 14 totaling $1,846.60. She allegedly told the district manager prior to the officers’ arrival that the thefts also had taken place before July and the total loss could reach $10,000, the report says.

The district manager said the store’s internal investigation will continue and they would update the police department when they have more information to report. Officers were provided with copies of internal reports related to the case which showed dates, times, amounts, still photos taken from closed-circuit television cameras and computer screen printouts of actions Downs was taking at the time, the report says.

After being read her rights, Downs allegedly admitted to taking money from the business through the fraudulent refunds. She said she would use random customers’ receipts to complete the refund and then keep the cash. She said she had been working at the store for about two years and “had been completing fraudulent refunds for most of that time,” the report says.

Downs, who lives at 1372 Starlight Circle in Eustis, was placed under arrest and transported to the Leesburg Police Station for booking and later taken to the Lake County Jail. She was charged with grand theft and fraud and released Saturday afternoon on $4,000 bond. She is due in court Oct. 12 at 8:30 a.m. to answer to the charges, jail records show.

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