Walmart employees loaded gift cards, made fraudulent purchases, authorities say

With the holidays fast approaching, many retail stores are looking to add temporary help.

At a Walmart store in Palm Desert, Calif., there may be more job openings than originally expected.

That’s because 22 employees of the store were arrested last week, charged in an embezzlement scheme that involved fraudulently loading gift cards, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department said.

The alleged crimes took place over a two-week period in September, the Desert Sun reported.

A fraudulent coupon code helped the suspects make more than 1,000 unauthorized transactions Sept. 7-18, authorities said.

The suspects were able to use the cards to purchase groceries, electronics and other items, KESQ-TV reported.

mugs44

Fifteen of 22 suspects in a Walmart embezzlement scheme were booked last week, authorities said.  (Riverside County, Calif., Sheriff's Department)

Walmart officials detected the alleged scheme about two weeks before the arrests, the TV station reported.

Authorities said the suspects were booked on embezzlement and conspiracy charges. Some other employees initially linked to the alleged scheme were later cleared, pending further investigation, authorities said.

Many of the items purchased with the gift cards were recovered, authorities said.