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Breaking News in the Industry: March 20, 2019

Serial shoplifter ‘banned for life’ from malls

A Wisconsin woman was taken into custody again on Monday afternoon after she carried a large armload of clothing out of the JCPenney store in East Towne Mall in Madison on Monday. Joel DeSpain, a spokesperson with the Madison Police Department, said an officer recognized the 52-year-old woman as a “prolific shoplifter”.

DeSpain said the stolen merchandise was valued at nearly $650. The woman had taken it to a van. Inside the van was a man who has a lifetime ban from the East Towne Mall because of past retail thefts. DeSpain said the officer identified both the woman and man as people who are part of a group that is known to take large quantities of merchandise without paying.

The woman told the officer she planned to sell the JCPenney’s items to a middleman who in turn facilitates fraudulent returns of merchandise to stores for cash. Marilyn P. Simmons was arrested for felony retail theft. A 54-year-old Madison man was cited for trespassing. Loss prevention associates told the Madison Police Department they want Simmons banned for life from both East Towne and West Towne Malls.    [Source: NBC15 News]

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Online retail fraud attacks rising says new study

Attempts to defraud online retailers have increased for the second year in a row, with food and beverages and online electronics seeing the biggest increases. That’s according to the 2019 Fraud Attack Index from e-commerce security company Forter. By analyzing merchant and transaction data, Forter determined the rate of increase in fraud attacks against online retailers in several different verticals during 2018, as compared to 2017. The study showed:

  • Food and beverage
 attacks against food and beverage businesses (including restaurants, delivery services and retailers in this industry) increased 79% in 2018, following a 60% increase in 2017
  • Electronics
 Fraud in the online electronics vertical skyrocketed 73% in 2018 over 2017. Electronics remain appealing to fraudsters given their value and the ease with which they can be resold
  • Apparel
 fraud attempts in the online apparel vertical rose 47% in 2018 from 2017, with easy resale of bulk items making apparel appealing to criminals
  • Jewelry and luxury items rose to a 19% year-over-year increase in online attacks in this vertical during 2018 demonstrates its continued appeal for fraudsters

The study also reviewed several common means of launching fraudulent attacks on online retailers. These include account takeover, when criminals gain unlawful access to an account to illegally make purchases or redeem loyalty points, which grew 45% in 2018 compared to 2017. Attacks by fraud rings, or online criminals banding together to collaboratively commit fraud, grew 26% year-over-year. Policy abuse, which involves cheating retailers through use of coupons and discount codes, overusing refer-a-friend reward programs, or creating multiple accounts, sharply rose 170%. Returns abuse, however, dropped 90% due to tighter retailer restrictions.   [Source: Chain Store Age]

Shoplifters arrested for armed robbery

Two Missouri women arrested after a shoplifting incident Saturday at the Target store in Joplin have been charged with armed robbery.  Police Capt. Trevor Duncan said Nakota K. Ortner, 31, and Sharlene T. Parks, 25, were arrested and charged with first-degree armed robbery in connection with a shoplifting incident a couple of minutes past noon Saturday in a Target store.

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Duncan said Ortner was stopped by a asset protection team member when she allegedly tried to leave the business without paying for some clothing. Parks, who was in her company, allegedly pulled out a knife and demanded that the AP member let her go, he said. The women then fled, but they were later located at Northpark Mall and arrested, Duncan said.   [Source: The Joplin Globe]

Facial recognition for Metro payments being tested in China

A subway operator in Shenzhen, China is testing facial recognition software, powered by a 5G network, to pay for entry, according to  reports. The face would be linked to a payment account, although whether the technology will work for similar faces or twins is not known.

Right now the experiment is being limited to one station, and people will be able to scan faces at the same place they enter subway cards or tap their phones. In order to use the service, customers will have to register their faces a day in advance, along with their linked payment accounts. One of the advantages of the system is that forgetting a subway card will be a thing of the past. However, it also means that users will be easily tracked, although some major Chinese cities already have artificial intelligence (AI)-powered facial recognition surveillance cameras. The technology was designed by Shenzhen Metro and telecom company Huawei.  [Source: PYMNTS]

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Suspect sought in $1,200 pharmacy caper

Police in Pennsylvania are investigating a theft of more than $1,200 worth of medications and vitamins from the CVS on Durham Road in Wrightstown Township. According to police, the suspect took various merchandise, including the following medications and vitamins: Zegerid, Prilosec, Nexium, Alli weight loss tablets and Viviscal Extra.

Witnesses told police the suspect spent 20 minutes in the store and even asked employees for product information before concealing the merchandise in his backpack and CVS Hallmark bags and leaving without paying. The suspect is described as a Hispanic male in his mid-20s. He was wearing a black hoodie, black coat and pants and was carrying a white and black back pack. Video surveillance captured the suspect’s black car leaving the parking lot. The photos can be viewed on the source website. Police believe the same man is responsible for a retail theft at a CVS in Bethlehem on February 24. More than $1,400 worth of allergy and cold remedies were stolen in that theft, authorities say.   [Source: Newtown Patch]

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