An employee theft incident at the Apple Store in the Queens Center Mall has resulted in a 24-year-old man being charged with grand larceny and other crimes for allegedly re-coding credit and debit cards while working at the store and using the counterfeit cards to buy legitimate Apple gift cards worth nearly $1 million.
An internal theft investigation was launched in October when Apple began receiving notifications of charge-backs, which indicate fraudulent transactions, on the Apple gift cards allegedly purchased by store employee Ruben Profit of Queens, New York. Profit allegedly bought multiple Apple gift cards using Visa and American Express cards between August and October, authorities said. The total value of the illicitly purchased gift cards was $997,000.
The investigation revealed that Profit was allegedly using counterfeit credit cards that had been encoded with fraudulently obtained credit card information. At the time of his arrest, Profit was reportedly in possession of 51 Visa and American Express gift cards with magnetic strips that had been fraudulently re-encoded with credit card information. He also allegedly had seven Apple gift cards in his possession worth $2,000 each.
While the source of the stolen information is currently unknown, this type of incident commonly occurs when such data is purchased or otherwise obtained from cyber-criminals that have hacked consumer credit card information from retail companies and other sources as part of a data breach. The fraudulently obtained information is then sold to individuals who encode the stolen information on to the magnetic stripes on the back of the card, which is commonly referred to as track data. It is fairly easily to create counterfeit credit cards by encoding the data onto any card with a magnetic stripe. The counterfeit cards are then used to purchase other items through this common form of identity theft.
The employee theft investigation further revealed that Profit was allegedly re-selling the fraudulently obtained Apple gift cards at a fraction of the face value. Profit allegedly told police that he was selling the Apple gift cards at 10% of the actual value of the cards, selling each $2000 gift card for $200 to an unnamed individual.
With a name like Profit, you would think he might do better. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted and is due to appear in court on November 10th.