Home Depot

In a U.S. District Court filing Aug. 19, 2019, Atlanta-based Home Depot disavowed any liability for $125,000 in deactivated gift cards a Weber County woman is stuck with after she bought them from an employee who embezzled them.

RIVERDALE — A woman who was scammed of at least $125,000 in a gift card fraud now faces a civil court counterclaim filed by retail giant Home Depot.

Kaitlyn Peterson sued Home Depot after the company in May 2018 deactivated about $165,000 in cards that it discovered had been stolen by an employee, since fired. She had responded to a ksl.com classified ad offering discounted Home Depot electronic gift cards.

After she bought and successfully redeemed one card, the man, Daniel Martinez, offered to sell her more. He told her he had earned the cards by winning international online games. She was building a house in Weber County, so she bought numerous cards and redeemed thousands of dollars’ worth without a problem.

But after Home Depot detected the scam, Martinez was fired and he was charged and convicted of communications fraud. A judge ordered him to pay Home Depot more than $161,000 in restitution. Ogden police determined Martinez had stolen $330,000 in cards.

According to court records, between Oct. 7, 2017 and May 16, 2018, Peterson made a total of 12 purchases from Martinez for a total of $198,225.

Peterson was stuck with $125,000 in cards she could not redeem.

Peterson’s lawsuit argues that Home Depot should have had better employee and gift card security. Instead, the company “did nothing and allowed Martinez to operate with impunity selling fraudulent egift cards to plaintiff for eight months,” the suit said.

In documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court, Home Depot said it owes Peterson nothing because she never held legal title to any of the gift cards.

“It is clear that Martinez stole and/or embezzled the Home Depot eGift cards that (Peterson) naively purchased,” Home Depot’s counterclaim said.

It said Peterson “was simply ignorant of or chose to ignore” its terms and conditions governing gift cards.

“Her ignorance is no excuse and does not impose a duty on Home Depot to protect her from Martinez,” the company said.

Further, Home Depot alleged that Martinez and Peterson “combined, conspired, and/or worked together to obtain the eGift Cards from Home Depot for Peterson’s personal use and/or benefit.”

Its counterclaim demands that the court award damages representing the amount of Home Depot purchases Peterson made with the stolen cards — perhaps more than $70,000.

Contacted Monday, Peterson’s attorney, Jason Yancey, declined to comment on the counterclaim.

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt.

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