Thief racks up online Walmart charges on Ozarks family's bank account

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- Online shopping and in-store pickup are supposed to be the shortcuts, but when someone hijacked a Marshfield, Mo. family's online account, the only shortcut was the one for the thief.

"It was $644.52, two of them," said Tricia Lawhon, of two fraudulent charges on her Walmart online account.

The two huge hits on the family's bank account were both to Walmart. Lawhon said the thief somehow accessed her online account with the mega retailer, and the charges caught her attention immediately.

"Not to have that money in there is very hard. It's a huge struggle. It just takes away that security," she said.

The Lawhons' Walmart account was tied to their debit card. The person who accessed the account purchased two computers, the Lawhons said. The Lawhons called the store and even went there in person to stop the thief from making the pickup on their account. However, they said despite their pleas, Walmart handed the items, worth some $1300, over to a stranger who had listed herself as the pickup person on their account.

"Even though it was our account, our Walmart online account, they wouldn't let us stop it, cancel that transaction. They wouldn't let me pick it up. I was like, 'I'll just pick it up. Then I'll return it.' The would not let me do any of that," said Roger Lawhon.

"Because he was not the pickup person," Tricia Lawhon said.

That huge hole in their bank account mean the Lawhons' little ones' wish lists would have to be put on hold thanks to a fraudster's holiday schemes.

"That's the frustrating part is to know how many people is this happening to? How many people are going to go through this at this time of year? Any time of year," Roger Lawhon said.

Springfield Police said this is an active case, and they have a good idea as to who targeted the family's account.

Police said you should cancel your cards immediately if you spot fraudulent charges. It is also recommended to file a police report.

A spokesperson for Walmart said the N. Kansas Expressway store manager in Springfield, Mo., who handled the Lawhons' account, was not in when KY3 contacted the retailer for additional information Wednesday. The spokesperson said Walmart would respond with more information by Thursday.