Alleged Lego Scammer Sold 2,100 Boxes Through Website, Cops Say

PHOTO: Silicon Valley executive Thomas Lagenbach, inset, has been accused of changing the barcodes on Legos to avoid paying full price.
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The California software exec arrested for allegedly switching bar codes on high priced Lego sets resold them online through "TomsBrickyard," a site so popular with Lego buyers that they rated his service "excellent."

Thomas Langenbach, who was the vice president of SAP Labs Integration and Certification Center in Palo Alto, was arrested May 8 outside a Mountain View Target store.

In a plot more complex than a Lego Death Star set, police say Langenbach used a home computer and printer -- and lots of Legos – to amass a small fortune reselling the toys.

"Believe it or not this will be our first tech exec in a Lego case," Police Chief Scott Vermeer told ABC News.

Lagenbach, who lives in a gated multi-million dollar home in San Carlos, Calif., is free on $10,000 bail but has refused to comment.

Police said that Lagenbach, 47, was repeatedly captured on store surveillance video with expensive Lego sets in his cart at retail stores. Detectives said he did something called a "ticket switch," changing the price by allegedly putting his own barcode stickers on boxes so he could pay less. For example he would replace the barcode tag for a $249 Millennium Falcon Lego set with a tag for just $49, police said.

He then resold the sets through the TomsBrickyard web site, according to police. Prosecutors said he sold 2,100 Lego items for roughly $30,000 over the last year. Police are investigating to determine how many of those sets were obtained through fraudulent bar codes.

On the day of his arrest Langenbach had allegedly placed three phony bar codes on items, bought one of the boxes, and placed the other two back on the store's shelf. He had 32 fake bar codes in his car as well, according to Cindy Hendrickson, a supervising deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County.

Police photos from a search of his home show dozens of homemade barcodes neatly organized, plus stacks and stacks of brand new Lego sets.

"It certainly looks like an ongoing enterprise … to think we caught him the only five times he did this is very hard to believe," Hendrickson said.

Langenbach has so far refused to comment, now that he is free on $10,000 bail and has been is facing felony burglary charges -- not exactly child's play, despite a whole lot of Lego.

It's not the first time Legos have been targeted by scammers. In 2005, a Reno man was arrested for changing prices with phony barcodes for nearly $200,000 worth of Lego sets.

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