Breaking News in the Industry: March 24, 2017

vegetable selection background

Georgia police buy groceries for teen caught shoplifting

Two Rome, Georgia, police officers went above and beyond the call of duty recently to help out a local resident in need. Lieutenant Walters and Officer Brunson caught a 14-year-old shoplifting candy from a business in Rome. According to police, the teen gave the candy back after he was caught.

The officers later learned when they took the teen home; he didn’t have any food at his house. That’s when they took the boy shopping and bought him some groceries. “Lt. Walters spent well over $50 getting him enough groceries to last a week,” Rome police said on Facebook, sharing two photos of the officers buying the groceries.  [For more: FoxNews US]

Leader of $225K fraudulent credit card scheme pleads guilty to federal charges

Hussain Abdullah, age 39 of Forestville, Maryland, pleaded guilty on March 21, 2017, to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and being a felon in possession of a firearm, related to a scheme to use victims’ stolen identity information to obtain credit. The conspirators used the fraudulent credit cards to obtain money and merchandiseCo-conspirators Shazad Khan, age 56, of Maryland, Patricia Lynn Hiter, age 51, of Lawrenceville, Georgia, and James Edward Foster, age 61, of Woodbridge, Virginia, previously pleaded guilty to the wire fraud conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

- Sponsors -

The guilty pleas were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Brian J. Ebert of the United States Secret Service, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County Police Department; and Chief Hank Stawinski of the Prince George’s County Police Department.

According to their plea agreements, Abdullah obtained and helped obtain the personal identifying information (PII) of others, without their knowledge or consent. From October 2014 through July 2016, Abdullah used the victim’s stolen personal information to create fake driver’s licenses in the names of the victims. As part of the conspiracy, Abdullah provided over 30 fake driver’s licenses to Khan, Hiter, Foster, and directed them to use the victims’ personal information to open instant credit cards in the victims’ names. Khan, Hiter, Foster, Shivers, and others used the fraudulent driver’s licenses to apply for credit at retail stores, and used the credit cards they obtained to purchase merchandise, including electronics and jewelry, and gift cards.

The total loss to the card issuers was over $225,000, and the names of at least 65 victims – most of them Maryland residents – were used at retail stores without their permission. In addition, law enforcement has identified approximately 1,000 suspected victims based on their investigation of this scheme.  Abdullah and the government have agreed that if the Court accepts the plea agreement Abdullah will be sentenced to between 45 and 65 months in prison. U.S. District Judge George J. Hazel has scheduled sentencing for May 31, 2017 at 2:00 p.m.  [For more: Department of Justice]

Cocaine, designer knockoffs seized in traffic stop

A traffic stop led to the seizure of counterfeit clothing, fragrances, and cocaine. José M. Nino De Guzman, 38, was pulled over for speeding Wednesday morning by highway patrol. Deputies became suspicious and executed a search on the vehicle finding drug paraphernalia, a revolver, and 157 grams of cocaine along with the counterfeit merchandise.

Coach sunglasses, Tommy Girl perfume, Lacoste polo shirts, and designer handbags were among the counterfeit goods seized.
 De Guzman is being held on a $235,000 secured bond and facing multiple felony charges.  [For more: The Wilson Times]

How do tenured employees steal?

The head of the Central New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (CNY SPCA) and two employees stole more than $900.000 from the non-profit that’s supported by donations big and small. A Syracuse man who had worked for a Madison County farm equipment company for 30 years stole more than $740,000 from the company, according to police. A Lakeland man stole $70,000 over five years from a Syracuse restaurant supply company, police said. He had worked there for 22 years.

How do long tenured employees at small businesses and non-profits repeatedly get away with stealing large sums of money?   A recent study from the University of Cincinnati shows that over sixty-four percent of small businesses experience some form of employee theft. In many cases, employees are caught writing checks either directly to themselves or using company funds, and then covering up fraudulent transactions. Three experts in internal theft were consulted to find out what non-profits and small businesses can do to prevent these thefts from occurring.

Create a healthy separation of duties
Many small company owners do not take preventative measures, often falsely believing that such action is unnecessary. Consulting firm, Dermody, Burke & Brown, notes that “nobody wants to pay for these services … because they think it will never happen to them.” Their advice is to establish a plan and have protocols in place, rather than reacting after theft occurs.

Establish a monthly schedule to balance accounts
Many of the large instances of theft are the result of an employee continuously stealing small amounts over long periods of time. In order to prevent this, it is important for small businesses to monitor accounting worksheets and check for discrepancies. Experts advise putting aside a monthly date to review statements.

Set the tone for your employees
Employee behavior starts at the top with the small business owners themselves. It is important to model responsible behavior and to set clear boundaries for unacceptable behavior. A fraud policy should be clearly established for employees to assist in monitoring each other.

Don’t be afraid to question your employees
It is up to the owner to ask questions and make sure things are running the way they should. It is okay question employees and doesn’t mean you don’t trust them. Honest employees will have no problem having you look over their work and should be proud of it.  [For more: Syracuse News]

Hacker group claims to have breached Apple accounts

Earlier this week, a hacking group going by the monicker ‘Turkish Crime Family’ attempted to extort Apple over a claim that they had breached over 559 million Apple accounts, including iCloud and Apple ID logins. According to a report on the Vice website Motherboard, the hackers have demanded a ransom of $75,000 worth of Bitcoin or Etherium (two popular crypto-currencies,) or $100,000 worth of iTunes gift cards, after which the group claims they would delete the supposed collection of user data.

The hackers have provided screenshots of the alleged mails originating from the group members to various members of Apple’s security team, where the group had even posted a video depicting the process of logging into what appeared to be an elderly woman’s iCloud account, showing the backed-up photographs as well as the capability to remotely wipe the user’s phone.

According to Motherboard, Apple has responded to the group informing them to remove the video, as well as stating that their correspondence has been shared with the authorities for further action. The hackers have since replied claiming they will reset numerous iCloud accounts and even remotely wipe the devices of victims they allegedly have access to, unless Apple pays the amount they demand is paid by 7 April. The hacker group has also reached out to several media outlets, a common tactic to amplify their message even though the threat may actually be empty. Apple has since reassured their customers that its systems have not been breached, despite the hacking group claiming otherwise. The veracity of the hackers’ claims and the implications of its outcomes are still unclear, but we will continue to report on this story as it unfolds.  [For more: Daily News & Analysis]

$15,000 in counterfeit earbuds, adapters seized

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Peace Bridge (The bridge between Canada and the United States in Buffalo, NY) say they seized $15,000 worth of counterfeit earbuds and adapters. Officers say they discovered 500 counterfeit Apple EarPods and 150 counterfeit adapters.

“Our officers and import specialists have done an excellent job targeting shipments and identifying counterfeit items,” Acting Port Director Cary Frieling said. “CBP protects businesses and consumers every day with an aggressive intellectual property rights enforcement program. ”The items were found in a shipment labeled “earphones,” but the package printing and quality of the items appeared inconsistent with Apple products. It is not clear if anyone was arrested.  [For more: WIVB4 News]

NRF says later Easter expected to bring record spending

Americans will spend more than ever as they celebrate Easter nearly three weeks later this year than last, the National Retail Federation said today. According to NRF’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics, spending for Easter is expected to reach $18.4 billion, up 6 percent over last year’s record $17.3 billion and a new all-time high in the survey’s 14-year history. Those celebrating plan to spend an average of $152 per person, up 4 percent from last year’s previous record of $146.

“Most consumers have almost an entire extra month to shop for Easter this year, and by the time the holiday comes the weather should be significantly warmer than last Easter,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “That should put shoppers in the frame of mind to splurge on spring apparel along with Easter decorations. With the economy improving, consumers are ready to shop and retailers are ready to offer great deals whether they’re buying Easter baskets or garden tools.”

According to the survey, consumers will spend $5.8 billion on food (purchased by 87 percent of shoppers), $3.3 billion on clothing (50 percent), $2.9 billion on gifts (61 percent), $2.6 billion on candy (89 percent), $1.2 billion on flowers (39 percent), $1.1 billion on decorations (43 percent) and $788 million on greeting cards (48 percent). The 50 percent of consumers planning to buy clothing is up from 45 percent last year and is the highest level in a decade while the $3.3 billion expected to be spent is up 9 percent from last year.

“Easter continues to be a traditional holiday for consumers of all ages, especially young families who are planning to spend a bit more for this celebration,” Prosper Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow said. “With the later timing of Easter, we will see more consumers shopping for special deals, especially on apparel and decorations.” s to have breached millions of Apple accounts.  [For more: National Retail Federation]

Stay Updated

Get critical information for loss prevention professionals, security and retail management delivered right to your inbox.