The great Nike heist: employees are accused of stealing hundreds of valuable rare sneakers
J Thoendell stashed this in Crime
The harebrained conspiracy, which highlights just how valuable the sneaker resale market can be, sounds like something out of a crime novel, involving subterfuge, a Florida pipeline, bags of cash, and an undercover sting.
Here’s how the drama played out, according to the indictment and a detective’s affidavit, which was included in the court filings:
The whole thing started with Yamaguchi, who served as Nike’s promotional product manager for several years until he left the company in January 2012. In that role he was able to order pre-production samples called “Look See” models, as well as promotional sneakers, directly from Nike’s factories in China. These ultra-rare sneakers are highly sought after, and collectors have been known to pay up to $20,000 for a pair.
Ho replaced Yamaguchi in the position, and the two men reportedly came to an arrangement: Yamaguchi explained to Ho how he could hide the scope of promotional orders by billing them to different Nike cost centers. In July 2012 they agreed to work together to sell the rare sneakers: Ho would acquire them and Yamaguchi would funnel them to a reseller, a service for which he got a 20% cut of the sales.
A month later, Yamaguchi connected with the reseller who would become their main outlet for the stolen sneakers, a Florida man named Jason Keating (the third man indicted in the case, who has been released on pretrial conditions and will stand trial later this month). Yamaguchi would ship the sneakers from Oregon to Keating in Florida, where he would then resell them to customers. Keating would pay Yamaguchi by wire transfer or actually go to Oregon and pay in cash for larger purchases. The typical payment ranged from $5,000 to $30,000.