Breaking News in the Industry: September 8, 2017

Fugitive guilty of nearly $10M in bogus travel purchases

A man who escaped to Mexico in the 1990s to avoid sentencing in a New York credit card fraud case has pleaded guilty before a federal judge in Pittsburgh for a scheme to make nearly $10 million in fraudulent credit card purchases, most of them international airline tickets, while on the lam. Nicolas Frank Sucich, 48, likely faces more than four years in federal prison under a plea agreement struck Tuesday to charges of wire and access device fraud. He’ll return for sentencing Jan. 5, when prosecutors and his defense attorney hope the judge will approve their agreed-upon 51-month sentence. Sucich had been convicted in an unrelated credit card fraud in Duchess County, New York in 1996 and was awaiting sentencing there when he fled to Mexico, said Assistant US Attorney Gregory Melucci and defense attorney Stephen Misko. Sucich set up a business called FCO Travels in Mexico. Using that business, he used a fraudulent Scotiabank MasterCard account to buy millions of dollars’ worth of airline tickets from a legitimate Pittsburgh-area travel agency, then re-sold the tickets for cash at discounted rates to travelers, among other schemes. Sucich obtained the fraudulent card from Scotiabank of Canada using the alias Francisco Javier-Alvarez Johnson, and eventually got several other cards in other aliases, plus one in Jimmy Lee Johnson’s name. Those cards were used to overdraw a bank account to which they were linked by making “substantial purchases of merchandise and airline travel,” including international tickets purchased on Iberia, Log Air Compans and Deutsche airlines, according to an indictment returned four years ago by a grand jury in Pittsburgh. Homeland Security agents finally tracked down Sucich in Veracruz, Mexico in February, and he’s been in custody ever since. Misko said Sucich “is at peace because it’s over.” He still must return to New York for sentencing on the earlier case, which Misko could not detail.  [Source: ABC News]

State seeks $6.5 million from owners of busted pawn shop

State prosecutors in Delaware want the owners of a Middletown pawn shop busted for selling stolen goods to pay $6.5 million in civil penalties. A complaint filed in New Castle County Superior Court contends that the family operating the Gold Fever Pawn Shop on Broad Street in Middletown violated the state’s organized crime and racketeering act and asks a judge to enforce the multi-million-dollar fine. Shaun Reilly, 36, his wife, Kisha Reilly, and his mother, Denise Toy, 63, were indicted in August 2016 as part of an 18-month investigation into organized retail theft. Investigators contend the trio enlisted shoplifters to steal items from local retailers, stored them in a trailer at Toy’s home, sold the stolen items at the pawn shop and eventually paid the shoplifters a third of the sale price, according to the Department of Justice. Each of the three pleaded to various criminal charges tied to the scheme earlier this year.

The new civil complaint filed by Delaware Department of Justice officials alleges 64 different infractions prosecutors say violate the state’s organized crime and racketeering act. The complaint asks the judge to assess a $100,000 penalty for each count. The state asked for additional $100,000 fines against Shaun Reilly for possessing a firearm during the commission of a felony and Kisha Reilly for possessing a firearm as a felon.  The proposed civil penalties come in addition to jail or probation time served by the three for the criminal charges.  In February, Toy pleaded guilty to providing a firearm to a person prohibited, third-degree conspiracy and theft. She was sentenced to six months in prison followed by one year of probation. In April, Shaun Reilly pleaded guilty to racketeering, conspiracy to commit racketeering and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. He was sentenced to nine years in prison followed by 18 months of probation. Kisha Reilly in April pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal solicitation, felony theft and two counts of possession of a firearm by a person prohibited. She was sentenced to six months of home confinement followed by 18 months of probation.  [Source: Delaware Online]

South Carolina man maced loss prevention associate trying to stop shoplifter

According to Spartanburg police, a man and woman were arrested after a shoplifting incident in which a loss prevention associate was sprayed with mace. The incident occurred at the Belk store at Westgate Mall on Monday. Kelsey King, 20, was arrested and charged with shoplifting, while 22-year-old Ryan Coffey was arrested and charged with assault and battery in the third degree.  According to the incident report, the Belk loss prevention associate stopped King after noticing she was shoplifting. Coffey maced the LP associate after he saw the officer pull on King’s arm and, according to the incident report, Coffey was unaware the victim was a loss prevention associate and thought a stranger was grabbing King. Officers stated that King had fled the scene before they arrived, but were able to get her to return to the store. The report stated that King admitted to hiding stolen items in a mall bathroom. Officers transported King and Coffey to the Spartanburg County Detention Center. Both King and Coffey have been released from custody.  [Source: Fox Carolina]

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Surveillance video of brazen take-over robbery at retailer released [Video]

Emeryville police in California released footage of three masked men who robbed a Target store at gunpoint just after midnight Saturday.The robbery occurred at the Emeryville Target store as the store was closing for the night, according to police. Two of the three suspects were armed, and they took an undisclosed amount of cash before the trio fled in a four-door silver sedan about one minute after first entering the store, officers said. Surveillance footage released Tuesday by police showed some of the early moments of the brazen robbery. In the video, two Target employees are seen standing by the entrance as the three men entered the store.

The first suspect is seen running through the doors, carrying a handgun and wearing a backpack, making his way to the left of the store. A second man, who appeared unarmed in the footage, and who went in the same direction as the first suspect, follows him quickly. A third man is seen following behind a few seconds later, but rather than following the others, he slows down to stop one of the employees who attempted to flee the store. Blocking the exit, the suspect points a rifle at the employee as both visible workers get on the floor. The man then kicks the employee closest to the suspect, and he is then seen ushering the two employees to their feet, walking them away from the entrance and out of sight of the surveillance camera. A short time later, the three suspects then flee the store with one person noticeably carrying items in his hands as he exits. Police have made no arrests in the case, and Emeryville police Capt. Oliver Collins called the robbery a “brazen act.”  [Source: SF Gate]

How to find out if you’re affected by the Equifax hack

You may have never used Equifax yourself, or even heard of it, but the credit reporting agency could still have a treasure trove of your personal information. Equifax said Thursday that 143 million people could be affected by a recent data breach in which cybercriminals stole information including names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and the numbers of some driver’s licenses. Additionally, credit card numbers for about 209,000 people were exposed, as was “personal identifying information” on roughly 182,000 customers involved in credit report disputes. Equifax is one of three nationwide credit-reporting companies that track and rate the financial history of US consumers. It gets its data, without you even knowing, from credit card companies, banks, retailers, and lenders. Equifax will not be contacting everyone who was affected, but will send direct mail notices to those whose credit card numbers or dispute records were accessed.

The company suggests you sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection. It is providing free service for one year through TrustedID Premier, whether or not you’ve been affected by the breach. To enroll, click here and then click on the Check Potential Impact tab. You must submit your last name and last six digits of your Social Security number there. At that point you’ll be given a date when you can return to the site and sign up for the service. The site says once you’ve submitted your information you will receive a message indicating whether you’ve been affected. But it’s unclear when or how you will receive that message. The company also recommends that you review account statements and credit reports yourself to check for incidents of fraud. If you have more questions for Equifax, the company has set up a designated call center at 866-447-7559. [Source: CNN Money]

Three employees charged with stealing from retail store

Three Walmart employees were charged with stealing from the Clarence store in New York. The Erie County Sheriff’s office says this past Friday, a store loss prevention employee detained two overnight employees for stealing merchandise. Authorities say 19 iPhones and three iWatches were stolen. Deputies charged Buffalo residents Jade Beal, 20, and Gebrial Shamburger, 21, with grand larceny.  A third suspect left the scene, but was found at his Buffalo home on Tuesday. Dushawn Elmore, 22, was also charged with grand larceny. Beal and Shamburger were released from the Erie County Holding Center after posting $2,000 bond each. Elmore was released after his arraignment in Clarence Town Court. Walmart spokesman Charles Crowson tells News 4 that the men were temporary hires and are no longer with the company.  [Source: WIVB4 News]

US man arrested for fake clothing smuggling

An American resident has been arrested for his part in a “sophisticated scheme” to import around 200 shipping containers of fake brand-name apparel from China into the US. Su Ming Ling (50), a former resident of Queens, New York, was arrested in California as he attempted to board a flight from San Francisco to Taiwan, while items were seized by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). The four-year smuggling racket, which was described as an “elaborate criminal enterprise”, allegedly looked to pocket millions of dollars from the sale of knock-off Nike sneakers, UGG boots, and National Football League athletic jerseys, among other merchandise. “Using a combination of internet savvy and old-fashioned counterfeit distribution techniques, defendant Ling perpetrated a lucrative counterfeiting scheme involving fake name-brand items,” Bridget Rohde, acting United States attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement, adding: “This Office, together with our law enforcement partners, remains committed to protecting the intellectual property of US brands, on which the economic integrity of US markets depend.”

The scam unraveled after shipping containers that purported to contain brand-name merchandise were inspected by HSI and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The agencies established that the Nike sneakers, UGG boots, National Football League athletic jerseys and True Religion jeans inside the containers were fake. The following investigation involved searching Ling’s cellular phones in December 2015, where HSI agents found photographs and notes of names and email addresses the defendant kept in an apparent effort to keep track of his fraudulent identities. The agents also found messages between Ling and his co-conspirators with delivery instructions and photographs of delivery orders for the shipping containers that had been inspected. “US Customs and Border Protection enforcement actions provided a critical link in an ongoing investigation that resulted in the take-down of an elaborate criminal enterprise,” Leon Hayward, acting director, New York field office, CBP, said in a statement. If convicted, Ling faces a statutory maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment for smuggling, and 10 years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit goods. [Source: Securing Industry]

 

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