Breaking News in the Industry: April 12, 2017

Illinois woman pleads guilty to stealing more than $500,000 from employer

A Des Plaines, Illinois, woman pleaded guilty Monday to stealing more than $500,000 from a health care company in Lincolnwood, the Chicago Tribune is reporting. Shawna Wolff-Giesler, 42, pleaded guilty to felony theft for stealing $562,000 from Econocare, a long-term care provider, the Tribune reports. Wolff-Giesler was sentenced to four years in prison and, sentenced to two years of parole following her release, the Tribune reports. She has already paid $50,000 in restitution to Econocare. Wolff-Giesler was charged in June with continuing a financial crimes enterprise and theft, according to a news release from the Cook County state’s attorney’s office.

From 2007 to 2015, Wolff-Geisler worked in the accounting department at Econocare and was responsible for handling accounts receivable and accounts payable. Her job also included preparing checks for authorized expenditures, though she was not authorized to sign checks, according to a news release at the time of her arrest. After she was fired from the company in August 2015, a financial inspection revealed suspicious checks written on the corporate bank account. The state’s attorney’s office said there were approximately 80 checks on which she forged the signature of the company’s CEO and owner. The checks were deposited directly to Wolff-Geisler’s bank account or applied to her account balances for her personal credit cards, according to the release. Wolff-Geisler was facing up to 15 years in prison if convicted at trial.  [For more: Daily Herald]

Theft suspect captured after bragging on facebook

A Florida man who bragged on facebook about how cops couldn’t catch him is now behind bars. Stuart Police responded to a theft call at a Walmart on March 31. Surveillance video showed a man stealing from the store. 
During the investigation, police found a man on social media who appeared to match the description of the thief. According to a post, Nicholas Paul Nereau blasted police in his facebook post, writing, “cops are soo stupid they keep searching for me and walking passed me for and sitting up posted like you all no whare i am come get me.”

Police did just that and issued an arrest warrant for Nereau last Thursday. Three hours later, police had Nereau sitting in the back of a patrol car. He’s being held on a $20,000 bond for misdemeanor retail theft.  [For more: CBS12 News]

Computer engineer charged with theft of proprietary computer code

A computer engineer in California was arrested and accused of stealing over three million confidential files and computer code. A US federal court charged the man with stealing trade secrets from his employer. Zhengquan Zhang is alleged to have stolen the source code for his employer’s algorithmic trading model and trading platforms. He hid stolen files on the company network before transferring the info to a third party software development site. He is also believed to have illegally accessed co-workers’ computers with stolen user credentials.

An FBI spokesperson added, “Proprietary computer code may not be a tangible asset that people can observe, but it is indeed one of the most critical assets that companies possess.”  [For more: Dark Reading]

Arkansas employee arrested after stealing $10,000 from ATM bag

A former employee for Loomis Armored US, was recently charged with stealing $10,000 in cash after returning it. District Manager Jonathan Rollins called police after making the discovery. An ATM had received service several days prior, and Rollins believed that 22-year-old Brandon Rhea was responsible for the missing money. Rollins also managed to contact Rhea, who ended up bringing back all of the stolen money. Rhea was then arrested and charged with felony theft of property and held without bail.  [For more: Arkansas Online]

LP Worldwide: UK woman accused of stealing more than £220,000 from clothing firm

Deborah Gray (47) appeared at Leicester Magistrates Court last week, where she faced three charges, including the alleged theft. She was accused of stealing £227,444.40 (US $284,000) from GJ Waller, a small manufacturer of underwear, based in Church Langton, near Market Harborough. She is also accused of perverting the course of justice, and dishonesty, with a view to making a gain for herself.

Magistrates were told that Gray fainted in times of stress, and just before her court appearance, had “blacked out” while talking to her solicitor. She did not speak when she appeared in court, remaining seated and leaning against her daughter. Her solicitor confirmed her name and age. No pleas were entered at Leicester Magistrates Court. 

Gray was granted conditional bail, the conditions being that she did not go to GJ Waller or communicate with any GJ Waller employees. Her case was adjourned, and will now be dealt with by Leicester Crown Court in May.
  [For more: Harborough Mail]

About 18,000 convicted for IP piracy, counterfeiting in China

Around 18,000 people were convicted on charges of intellectual property (IP) piracy and producing counterfeit products last year, said Vice Premier Wang Yang Tuesday. 

Police investigated more than 200,000 cases involving IP piracy and counterfeiting last year and seized 22,000 suspects, said Wang at a national meeting on IP piracy and counterfeit control. 

Authorities closed more than 200,000 accounts that were facilitating IP piracy and counterfeiting on the Internet, and handled about 2,000 websites to guarantee the market’s proper operation, he said. 

Laying out the essential tasks for this year, Wang said the government planned to tighten online supervision and investigate the source of production. 

A special operation to prevent the trade of counterfeit products will be launched, in which cross-border trade along the Belt and Road will be under tight scrutiny, he said. 

Supervision of rural markets will be enhanced, and computer software will be another priority, said Wang. 

In addition, the government will promulgate relevant laws and regulations and establish a credit system to raise the cost of breaches, he said.  [For more: Global Times]

Stores take flight from Fifth Avenue in Manhattan

Bergdorf Goodman. Tiffany & Company. Louis Vuitton. Fifth Avenue in Manhattan is to shopping what Broadway is to theater, defined by the marquee names that for decades have occupied some of New York City’s most prized real estate. But lately, the avenue’s glittery window displays have been changing more quickly, as retailers have streamed in and out. Tourism has slowed while online shopping has sped up, making it harder for companies to justify the cavernous spaces and sky-high rents along the shopping strip.

On Tuesday, Ralph Lauren became the latest retailer to pull up stakes, announcing that it would close its flagship Polo store at Fifth Avenue and 55th Street as part of a previously announced effort to reorganize the company. The move highlights how higher-end brands are not immune to the broader troubles facing brick-and-mortar retailers from online shopping and other competitors. Companies must often choose whether to invest in their online or physical stores — including showcase locations like those on Fifth Avenue. “The Fifth Avenue model seemed to work for a while, and then it got to a point where it just doesn’t work at this price anymore,” said Barbara Denham, a senior economist at Reis, a real estate data and analytics firm. “It got to the point where I think landlords were jacking up each new lease with higher and higher rent, and at some point, something had to give.”

Stores still line the avenue. But in recent years, a record number of brands along the upper part of the shopping strip have shuttered or relocated, including Kenneth Cole, Juicy Couture and H&M, according to an analysis from the brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield. From 49th to 60th Streets, the availability rate of leases — one gauge of turnover — reached 15.9 percent at the end of last year, up from 6.1 percent five years earlier.

Fifth Avenue was particularly hard-hit between the presidential election in November and the inauguration in January, when Mr. Trump, then the president-elect, continued to work out of Trump Tower, on the avenue between 56th and 57th Streets. Swarms of security personnel made a leisurely stroll around Trump Tower into a nightmarish maze, slowing foot traffic to nearby retailers. “Yes, there are still some gates and cement barriers,” said Tom Cusick, the president of the Fifth Avenue Business Improvement District. “But the kinds of problems that we had between election and inauguration have mostly evaporated.”  [For more: The New York Times]

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