Breaking News in the Industry: April 13, 2017

Customs seizes $1.1M in counterfeit cell phone accessories at Port of Charleston

U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents seized an estimated $1.1 million in counterfeit mobile phone accessories shipped through the Port of Charleston, South Carolina. The haul included cases, chargers, cables, and headphones on March 14. Customs agents say the merchandise arrived into the port from China and was destined for upstate South Carolina.

A closer look at the manifest showed 85,000 individual accessories bearing images and markings from Apple, USB, Bluetooth, Blu-Ray, LG, Marvel, DC Comics, Hello Kitty, and Dr. Dre. Representatives from these companies confirmed their images and markings were being used without their permission, making them counterfeit and subject to seizure. Additionally, Customs agents say they seized 38,000 power adapters, which had a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mark signifying they’d been tested in an accredited FCC laboratory for operating standards. These were found to be unauthorized markings as well, and officials say they could have presented potentially significant safety risks.  [For more: ABC4 News]

PA woman admits to stealing over $300K from local non-profits

A Pennsylvania woman has admitted to stealing more than $335,000 from local non-profit groups over a period of three years. The victimized organizations include the Progressive Workshop, the Allegheny Valley Land Trust, and the Armstrong County Conservancy. The Progressive Workshop group noticed that checks had begun bouncing in early 2016 and discovered that a large amount of money appeared to be missing from the checking account. Police were notified and forensic auditing led police to suspect the bookkeeper, Beverly Steffy. Steffy was also working as a bookkeeper for the other two organizations and investigators began looking into her activity in those groups as well. She was found to have been diverting funds directly into her personal accounts.

By June of 2016, Steffy had been charged with six counts of felony forgery and felony theft. Distric Attorney, Scott Andreassi, said that just days before the trial was set to begin, Steffy reached out through her attorney to instead enter in guilty pleas for the six charges. Most of the $335,000 was stolen from the Progressive Workshop, which was almost forced to shut down as a result, according to the D.A. Andreassi also noted that the office was pleased to obtain the guilty plea rather than entering into an expensive court battle. Steffey faces up to 60 years in prison, a maximum of ten years for each of the six felonies. She remains free on bond until her sentencing date on June 20th.  [For more: The Kittanning Paper]

Convenience store employee charged with theft of lottery tickets

A convenience store employee has been charged with the theft of more than $1,200 worth of North Carolina Education Lottery tickets. The thefts occurred at the Jetway convenience store on Highway 27 between March 17 and April 4.  Store officials discovered the missing lottery tickets and a few scratched off tickets that were placed back in the slot to be sold. Charged in the thefts is 26 year old Brittany Chantais Orgeron of Iron Station, NC.

Surveillance video shows the employee allegedly placing a stack of lottery tickets in her purse then taking the purse out to her car.  One of the scratch-off tickets valued at $500 and another for $50 were redeemed on March 25.  Two other tickets had been redeemed on March 17, 2017.  During an interview she admitted to taking the scratch off tickets. Orgeron was charged with one felony count each of Larceny by Servants and Possessing Stolen Goods. Detectives arrested Orgeron when she reported for work on April 4.  She was placed in the Harven A. Crouse Detention Center under a $3,000 secured bond.  [For more: WBT News]

Employee pleads guilty to theft

A former employee of a Moorhead- and Detroit Lakes, Minnesota, based auto dealership who was charged in 2015 in a large embezzlement case pleaded guilty Tuesday, April 11, to a theft charge and indicated he was willing to pay restitution of $200,000 to the dealership. Former Big Lot accountant Stuart Jay Larson, 49, of Fargo, pleaded guilty in Clay County District Court, where a sentencing hearing is set for June 1. Larson and a co-defendant, Cory Dean Cambronne, formerly Big Lot’s general manager, originally faced 10 felony theft counts each when they were charged in July 2015.

Cambronne, 43, of Le Center, Minnnesota, pleaded guilty in February to one count of theft and was sentenced to 60 days in jail. He was also ordered to pay restitution of $100,000. According to court documents, a co-owner of Big Lot contacted Moorhead police in May 2014 to report that money appeared to be missing from the business and that Larson and Cambronne were suspected of embezzling more than $300,000. All told, the company’s cash shortage amounted to about $450,000, court documents state. Prosecutor Pam Harris said Tuesday that an insurance settlement in the case covered some of the loss. She said when Larson is sentenced, she will argue for jail time at least equal to the 60 days Cambronne received.  [For more: DL Online]

Another jewelry store robbed during daytime heist

For at least the sixth time in the last six weeks, an Oahu jewelry store Honolulu police are on the hunt for a pair of thieves who stole several necklaces from the Royal Hawaiian Heritage Jewelry Store in the Pearlridge Mall around noon on Tuesday.No one was hurt in the heist, but it’s the second time in recent weeks a store inside the mall has been hit: On Feb. 24, the owners of Diamond Fairy said that a man wearing dark-colored clothing took off with gold chains during a brazen daytime smash-and-grab.

Shopkeepers across other parts of Oahu remain on high alert. On March 11, the owner of Things & Blings in McCully said two men zip-tied her hands as they ransacked her King Street shop. In less than three minutes, the suspects fled with about $25,000 worth of jewelry. The owner said one of the suspects in that case also looked like one of the men who hit Pacific Diamond Wedding Rings several days prior. Two men used a pickaxe to smash display cases in that incident.

Police haven’t released any additional information, but the five crimes have similarities: Three happened during midday. Three involved getaway vehicles that were later found abandoned. At least four of the crimes involved multiple men and in all five instances, no one was hurt. If you have any information, call CrimeStoppers with your tips at 808-955-8300.  [For more: Harborough Mail]

Former ISU employee pleads guilty to first-degree theft, court date set

A former Iowa State employee accused of improperly drawing $68,000 in funds from the university entered a plea of guilty in late March. Pamela Backstrom, 56, who worked for the research center from August 2013 to January 2016, pleaded guilty to first-degree theft and will face the court at 10 a.m. April 24.  Backstrom was accused of embezzling funds from the Quantitative Nondestructive Evaluation (QNDE) programs account belonging to the the university. The non-profit research center hosts a conference annually and receives funds from the university’s Center for Nondestructive Evaluation. An investigation that ended with Backstrom’s arrest began after the Iowa State Police Department was alerted of funds not supported by the university amounting to $71,000. Backstrom was held in the Story County Jail after her arrest. Of the money that Backstrom was accused of embezzling, $62,000 was made up of cash-only withdrawals.  [For more: Iowa State Daily]

New Mexico now 48th state to require breach notice

Companies must notify New Mexico residents of the breach of their personal information under the state’s new data breach notification law. Governor Susana Martinez (R) signed the bill April 6—just one day before the April 7 deadline to act on the legislation. The law unanimously cleared both New Mexico’s House and Senate. New Mexico joins the roster of 48 states and the District of Columbia with data breach notification laws. Only Alabama and South Dakota remain without some version of a breach notice law.  [For more: Bloomberg]

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