Who Is Michelle Mack? Glamorous Mom Ran Crime Ring Called 'California Girls' That Stole $8 Million of Makeup and Clothes for Resale on Amazon

Investigators then found that Mack operated a retail outlet on Amazon named Online Makeup Store, which boasted a product line of over 300 items.

A wealthy California mom-of-three has been accused of masterminding an organized crime ring that stole roughly $8 million worth of makeup from retailers such as Ulta, T.J. Maxx, and Walgreens, and resold it online to generate profits. Michelle Mack, 53, ran the crime ring from her $2.75 million, 4,500-square-foot mansion in the San Diego foothills, authorities said.

Mack allegedly paid airfares, hotel expenses, and car rentals for a dozen operatives who would deliver the stolen goods to her home in Bonsall, after which she allegedly sold them at discounted prices through a front company on Amazon Marketplace, NBC San Diego reported. Mack was finally arrested and slapped with multiple charges.

Orchestrating Her Loots

Michelle Mack
Michelle Mack X

The group, identified as the 'California Girls' by investigators, allegedly conducted operations in over a dozen states spanning coast to coast. They targeted various outlets, including LensCrafters, Sephora, and at least 231 Ulta stores.

Police found a 'mini-store' containing goods valued at $350,000 during a 5 a.m. raid on her $3 million. Authorities are concerned that the overall impact on retailers may have exceeded $8 million.

"If you try to make an easy buck off of other people's hard work, we will arrest you and prosecute you," said California Attorney General Rob Bonta said, as charges were filed.

According to Homeland Security investigators speaking to CNBC, Mack's alleged crime ring is just one of numerous such operations afflicting the country. Retailers are reportedly struggling to address the billions of dollars lost annually to theft.

Investigators spent over two years trying to break the gang, which was allegedly assigned the task of emptying entire store shelves and concealing the stolen goods in Louis Vuitton bags.

The unraveling of the conspiracy began when two shoplifters were arrested in an Ulta store on the East Coast.

One of them reportedly told police that she was employed by a woman in California who supplied her with a list of stores to target and the prices she would offer for stolen items.

A search of her phone unveiled numerous messages from a woman who was subsequently identified as Mack.

Trapping Mack and Arresting Her

Michelle Mack
Michelle Mack with her husband and children X

Investigators then found that Mack operated a retail outlet on Amazon named Online Makeup Store, which boasted a product line of over 300 items. "The items listed for sale were nearly 50 percent off the actual retail price, which was included in the sales listing," a search warrant application explained.

"This steep discount suggested the items were being fenced."

Amazon provided investigators with records indicating that the enterprise had generated sales totaling $8 million since 2012, with nearly $2 million generated in 2022 alone.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed 140 felony charges against Mack, her husband Kenneth Mack, and seven other alleged members of the crime ring. These charges include conspiracy to commit organized retail theft, grand theft, and receipt of stolen property.

All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty. "This is a multimillion-dollar criminal scheme. It was complex. It was orchestrated," Bonta said announcing the charges.

"We are not talking about garden-variety shoplifting."

According to court records, authorities alleged that incriminating text messages were exchanged between Mack, her husband, and some of the other women charged in the case.

"I'm not stealing regular I'm going to start filling up my bag quick. So I want to know stuff I can grab in bulks too," defendant Kimora Lee Gooding texted Mack on Jan. 7, 2023.

A few days later, Mack texted her husband, "Even without lancome we still did well," and he texted her "Lots of orders let's get shipping."

In July, Mack reportedly texted Alina Franco, another woman charged in connection to the crime ring, asking, "Did you get some new girls? I really need product so if you have anything please let me know."

Prosecutors stated that Mack's group routinely targeted a range of retailers including Sephora, Ulta, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, Prada, Bath & Body Works, Victoria's Secret, Luxottica's Sunglass Hut, and LensCrafters.

An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC that they have a "zero tolerance" policy toward retailers involved in selling stolen goods, and confirmed their cooperation with the investigation into Mack's alleged theft ring.

The company expressed satisfaction with the arrest of the suspects, saying that it sends a strong message that the sale of stolen goods carries severe consequences.