Breaking News in the Industry: December 5, 2017

Four Cuban nationals plead guilty to 14 felonies in credit card skimmer case

Four Cuban nationals, who traveled from Florida to Louisa, Virginia, were convicted of using a credit card skimmer to steal thousands of dollars, according to the Louisa County Commonwealth’s Attorney Rusty E. McGuire. Julio Marquez-Franco, 29, Breisys Martinez, 23, Yesenia Rodriguez-Lopez, 21, and Braya Hernandez, 32, pleaded guilty to 14 felonies, including six counts of credit card theft, six counts of credit card fraud, one count of credit card forgery, and one count of conspiracy. McGuire said the group came to Central Virginia and set up a skimmer, a device used to steal credit card information, on a gas pump at Elk Creek Store and New Bridge Market. The group waited several days to retrieve the device, which contained the stolen credit card information. Officials say the group then made counterfeit credit cards with a laptop and used other items they hid in the ceiling of their motel. The fake credit cards appeared to be legitimate cards issued in the defendants’ names.

According to McGuire, once the group made the credit cards, they began making purchases at various stores. They purchased electronics and household goods and then abandoned them in the parking lot in an effort to mask the purchase of several thousands of dollars of prepaid credit cards, McGuire said. The group then took the cards back to Miami where they were sold at about 80 percent of face value. “I encourage everyone who uses credit cards to practice vigilance when dealing with the use of their cards,” said McGuire. “While technology is certainly making lives easier, it also makes it much easier for criminals to obtain personal information, create mountains of fraudulent credit card debt and drain bank accounts. It is imperative that you report any unauthorized purchases on your credit or debit cards to the bank immediately, then follow up with your local sheriff’s department or other law enforcement agency. These four individuals, who scammed thousands of dollars, would not have been caught without the diligence of cardholders in reporting the unauthorized transactions.  [Source: NBC12 News]

Teen who smashed counter at retailer; crashed stolen van gets probation

A 17-year-old accused of smashing a glass display counter at an Ann Arbor, Michigan,  department store was sentenced to two years of probation. Markel Armond Outlaw also was given a year in jail, but the sentence was deferred under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act. If Outlaw complies with all the conditions of his probation, the case will be erased from his record. Washtenaw County Trial Court Judge Darlene O’Brien also ordered Outlaw to serve 100 hours of community service and to pay an undetermined amount of restitution.  A hearing to determine the amount was set for January.  Outlaw was charged with numerous felonies in connection with an attempted robbery that took place at Briarwood Mall on May 26. When the teen was confronted by a loss-prevention associate at the Macy’s department store, he allegedly smashed a glass jewelry case with a hammer, then used the tool in a threatening manner, police said. Outlaw fled the store and got into a stolen Dodge caravan which he crashed in the mall’s parking lot, according to police. Officers arrested him after a short foot pursuit.  Court officials read a victim impact statement from the owner of the stolen van in court Thursday.

The woman said she’s a mother and a grandmother and she used the van to transport her 14-year-old son who has special needs.  “You damaged my van, you damaged my son,” she said, adding that the incident caused her son to have nightmares.  The woman claimed the crash caused $11,000 damage and put the van out of commission for nearly two months.  “Your five minutes caused me 52 days of hell,” she said.  The amount of damage done to the car is being disputed, which is why a restitution hearing was set.  Outlaw initially was charged with armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful driving away with an automobile, malicious of destruction of personal property between $200 and $1,000, malicious of destruction of personal property between $1,000 and $20,000 and failure to stop after a collision. He was sentenced on the following charges: Assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful driving away with an automobile, and malicious of destruction of personal property between $1,000 and $20,000.  It’s unknown if he pleaded guilty or no contest to the charges. The case was no longer in the court system Friday due to the HYTA status. [Source: MLive]

Retail fraud online actually went down for Black Friday

Here’s a nice change of pace this week… It looks like online fraud did something unusual for Black Friday this year… It went down. For the first time in several years, credit card fraud (the most common fraud form factor for retailers online) fell to 42 percent of total fraud during the holiday shopping weekend. Last year, the same weekend saw credit card fraud at 59 percent of all fraud, according to data from authentication and fraud prevention provider iovation. The falling figures may indicate that retailers are getting better at sniffing out card-not-present (CNP) fraud, which has been ticking steadily upward in recent years; particularly since the brick-and-mortar retail world made the big migration to EMV. Consumers are shopping online more frequently and shifting their commerce behavior out over days instead of over a single weekend, so retailers have been able to better tailor their promotions and security strategies going into the very active holiday shopping season.

Data indicates that Black Friday through Cyber Monday saw 62 percent of all transactions coming from phones or other mobile devices — a bounce from last year’s 55 percent. “Online retailers who leverage device intelligence are making significant inroads when it comes to proactively preventing card-not-present fraud,” said Greg Pierson, CEO and co-founder for iovation. “This type of fraud not only cuts into their bottom line results; it can cause irreparable harm to their brand, so this is a meaningful improvement.” A separate survey of consumers found that shoppers may be getting a better grip on how to best protect their online security by using credit rather than debit cards for online purchases, keeping a regular eye on their credit score and shopping with well-known retailers with established track records. The one notable area of exception was passwords: Users both repeat them too often and don’t make them hard enough to crack. But perhaps passwords will soon be a secondary security measure, as multi-factor and bio-authenticaion is becoming increasingly popular. Using context to determine how trustworthy the user is ensures the appropriate level of authentication is required, and biometrics also tends to be more frictionless for consumers.  [Source: PYMTS]

Shoplifting arrest leads to heroin; meth bust

A Cottonwood, Arizona, Walmart shoplifting arrest led to the apprehension of drug traffickers. Brandi Plikerd, 36, of California, and Eli Herrera, 31, of Arizona, were found to be in possession of a quarter-pound of heroin and almost 2 ounces of methamphetamine, according to Cottonwood police. Early that morning, officers were called to Walmart for a report of a shoplifter. A 25-year-old California man was taken into custody. The officers’ investigation revealed that Plikerd and Herrera were friends of the 25-year-old man, according to a Cottonwood Police Department news release. Both were waiting outside for him in the parking lot. Plikerd and Herrera were found to be in possession of heroin and methamphetamine. Partnership Against Narcotics Trafficking (PANT) was contacted and took over the investigation. The street value for the heroin is estimated at $8,000, and $2,500 for the methamphetamine.

The 25-year-old man was arrested for shoplifting – a misdemeanor charge. Plikerd and Herrera were arrested on numerous drug charges including possession of narcotic drugs transport and sale; possession of dangerous drugs transport and sale; and possession of drug paraphernalia – all felony charges. “Thanks to the partnership between Walmart Asset Protection and Cottonwood Police a misdemeanor shoplifting arrest lead to an arrest of drug traffickers and a sizeable amount of drugs were taken off of the streets,” said spokeswoman for Cottonwood Police Department, Sergeant Monica Kuhlt.  [Source: CV Bugle]

Employee charged following report of alleged deposit bag robbery

A report of robbery to the Fremont Police Department in Nebraska ended with charges of false reporting and theft by unlawful taking on Thursday morning.  According to Fremont Police, at approximately 9:45 a.m. a robbery was reported at a retail business in the 3000 block of East 24th Street. An employee of the business alleged that while taking a deposit to the bank she was confronted in the parking lot by a lone male who forcibly took the bank bag containing the deposit and fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of money. After arriving at the scene, investigators’ located video surveillance that disputed the employee’s allegations that a robbery had occurred. Authorities said that upon further investigation the bank bag was found hidden in the trash can behind the business. As a result of the investigation Michele J. Pospisil, 42, of Fremont was arrested and charged with false reporting, tampering with evidence and theft by unlawful taking. The investigation into the incident was conducted by the Fremont Police Department and the Fremont Police Detective Bureau.  [Source: Fremont Tribune]

Making the Naughty list: Police conducting holiday season shoplifting sting

To coincide with the kickoff of the holiday shopping season, Newark Police in Delaware partnered with local retail establishments to reduce instances of shoplifting which occur during this time of the year, through both in-person and public outreach programs.  Authorities said part of the plan features plain-clothes officers making the rounds in a variety of stores to combat theft.  Since January 1, 2017, Newark Police have responded to 171 shoplifting complaints “resulting in 60 charges lodged against offenders.” “Shoplifting affects all of us and often times leads to more serious crimes being committed by the perpetrators,” said Newark Police Chief Paul Tiernan in a press release. “The Newark Police Department takes retail theft extremely seriously and we will continue to hold those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”

A second part of the plan features police releasing surveillance images of retail theft suspects, and asking the public to identify them. Anyone with information regarding the identity of the individuals is urged to contact Newark Police at 302.366.7100 ext. 3443 or Delaware Crime Stoppers at 1.800.TIP.3333.   [Source: WDEL News]

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