Breaking News in the Industry: March 18, 2016

A concept image of a magnifying glass with a wooden handle on a textured white surface showing the word authentic but magnifying the word fake resembling counterfeitting

Four Northeast Queens Men Charged with Counterfeiting
Four Northeast Queens men have been charged with trademark counterfeiting after fake Apple products from China were seized, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Angel Melendez and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announced on Thursday. “The street value of the seized items is estimated to be more than $200,000 – approximately ten percent of what similar items are legitimately sold for by Apple,” Brown said in a prepared statement. “My office is committed to working closely with Homeland Security, the NYPD and our other law enforcement colleagues to close down these illegal operations. And to prosecute all those involved in selling knock-off merchandise.” [Queens Chronicle]

Retailers Must Use the Next Generation of Security Technology to Protect Consumers
A recent incident in Colorado is highlighting that the four-digit “PIN” passcode you enter to use your debit or credit card isn’t a failsafe to hide it from crooks. Thieves compromised the checkout lane kiosks that process credit card purchases at a series of Safeway stores. That’s nothing new – such kiosks are responsible for the vast majority of credit card breaches in recent years. But law enforcement officials are alarmed by new “skimmers” that are able to lift PINs from the machine. It might surprise you to learn that most security experts place little faith in a four-digit passcode as a sole solution to keeping your data safe from thieves, for several reasons. Because they break the law for a living, we tend to think of criminals as evil, poor and inept. To the contrary, successful criminals must continually improve their tactics in the security fraud race to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. Fraud is an arms-race with billions of dollars at stake, and the cutting-edge techniques of years past must be continually refreshed. For instance, the United Kingdom has seen increases in fraud involving chip and PIN cards as criminals have adapted to the technology. [Inside Source]

Coldwater Police Investigation Leads to Arrest in Large Theft from Gander Mountain
One of two suspects charged in connection with the theft of a large amount of items from the Coldwater, Michigan, Gander Mountain Store is free after posting ten percent of a $25,000 bond on Tuesday.  21-year-old Kayla Kristine Wagoner is facing five-year felony counts for Retail Fraud, Organized Retail Crime and Conspiracy to Commit Organized Retail Crime. According to Branch County court documents, the alleged crimes in January involved the taking of items from the store for possible reselling either through the mail or by electronic media. Wagoner was arrested following a Coldwater Police Department investigation. She was arraigned in Branch County District Court on Tuesday. A probable cause hearing was scheduled for April 21, 2016 while a preliminary exam was set for April 27, 2016. A co-defendant, 28-year-old Paul William Goetz-Hoke of Coldwater, was booked at the Branch County Jail in late January. [WTVB.com]

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Walmart Clerk Arrested for Embezzlement
On March 15, 2016, Broken Arrow police officers responded to an embezzlement call at Broken Arrow’s neighborhood Walmart. When the officer arrived, the loss prevention manager said the accounting department informed her a register was $6,000 short on Sunday, March 13. An assistant loss prevention manager then viewed the surveillance video with the officer and loss prevention manager. After reviewing the tape, they concluded the suspect had completed 15 transactions of $500 and all of the money was loaded onto prepaid Visa cards. After loading the card with money, the suspect would push the ‘cash tendered’ button but would never place the money in the register. A second suspect then stopped in to take the prepaid cards. Shortly after, officers arrested 18-year-old Dejance Thomas for embezzlement by clerk on a bond of $2,000. The second suspect was also arrested for embezzlement. [abcTULSA]

Former Arizona State Employee Pleads Guilty to Theft in Scheme That Stole Millions in State Funds
A former high-level employee of Arizona’s state health-care agency pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges in connection to a scheme that had siphoned millions in state funds into a private bank account. Michael Veit, formerly the chief procurement officer of the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), was arrested in September, along with co-defendant Michael Cameron. They were later charged with 42 counts, including conspiracy, money laundering and trafficking in stolen property. As a part of a plea deal, Veit pleaded guilty to just two of these charges: theft and fraudulent schemes and artifices. Both are Class 2 felonies. The deal includes a stipulated sentence of 10 years in prison and orders Veit to pay $5.9 million in restitution to AHCCCS. His official sentencing is scheduled for May 9. Cameron has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for his next hearing March 28. [AZcentral]

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