Wal-Mart pays big for accusing woman of passing bogus money orders

The next time you go to Walmart, a tiny bit of the amount you pay for your purchases will go to Nitra Gipson of Texas, who a jury determined last week had received $9 million worth of humiliation at the hands of Walmart store employees. The employees accused her of attempting to cash in $4,100 of counterfeit Walmart money orders that she'd received by selling her car. She spent the next two days in the county lockup before the District Attorney decided to decline pressing charges.

The money orders turned out to be legitimate.

Gipson then filed a civil suit against the company for damages. The jury agreed, awarding her $8.2 million for her experience and another $820,000 to punish the chain. For her two days in jail, she was returned $187,500 per hour, or $3,125 per minute, or $52 a second. That should assuage her, I would think.

Of course, the company is pursuing an appeal, so this award could be sharply curtailed. Meanwhile, Gipson is considering becoming an attorney.

Store employees were probably on edge because Wal-Mart has often been used as the tool by thieves who run this scam: they contact the victim online, often from overseas, and ask them to help investigate the company's service. The victim is then sent what they are told are valid Wal-Mart money orders (sometimes the money orders are sent first, with a note to check for an e-mail) , which they are to take to the store and exchange for cash. The victim is told they can keep part of the money and send the rest back to the scammers. Of course, the money orders are counterfeit and the victim is the only person left holding the bag.
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