Breaking News in the Industry: May 6, 2016

Walmart Welcomes Back Greeters

The Walmart greeter is back. Having eliminated the position from its 5,000-plus U.S. stores four years ago, the Arkansas-based retail giant recently completed a successful pilot program that returned these goodwill ambassadors to the front door. Citing positive customer feedback, the company announced this week that starting in the summer, it will be stationing 9,000 people at its store entrances. Walmart’s tradition of “people-greeters” dates back to the 1980s, when company founder Sam Walton implemented a store associate’s idea that a familiar face at the entrance would give shoppers the impression of a friendly, neighborhood business — while also acting as a deterrent to shoplifters. Two-thirds of the new positions will be the traditional greeters — often senior citizens. The remainder will be “customer hosts,” a specially trained younger crew in bright yellow vests who will be responsible for checking receipts, processing returns, handling security, and protecting against theft.”Customers have told us that the stores feel friendlier when there is someone at the door to say Hi and welcome them to Walmart…” [NBC News]

 

Former MillerCoors Exec Pleads Guilty to Embezzling $8.6 Million

A former MillerCoors marketing executive pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling more than $8.6 million in a wire fraud scheme. David Colletti was employed by MillerCoors for 31 years. Beginning no later than 2003, Colletti “devised a scheme to obtain money by falsely billing for specific events or promotions that did not occur as billed or at inflated costs,” according to Colletti’s plea agreement. To do that, Colletti “recruited” third-party vendors to prepare false estimates for marketing services, which he would approve for payment, the court documents said. Colletti was indicted in the scheme along with seven others — all of whom have pleaded not guilty. In total, Colletti was involved with at least 200 false estimates that prompted MillerCoors to pay at least 15 different vendors controlled by the others indicted in the case, resulting in $8.6 million in fraudulent payments… [Chicago Tribune]

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LAPD Unlocked an iPhone 5S While the FBI Was Fighting Apple

While the FBI was embroiled in a very public spat with Apple about unlocking an iPhone, it seems the LAPD may have been quietly unlocking another. The Los Angeles Times reports that the LAPD recently unlocked an iPhone 5S. In the documents, claims the newspaper, LAPD Detective Connie Zych wrote that the police department had identified a “forensic cell phone expert” with the ability to “override the locked iPhone function.” There’s no word on how it was done, nor who did it. Much like the FBI’s final approach, then, involving a third-party rumored to have been paid around $1 million for its troubles. There’s no mention of which OS the phone was running—a crucial factor in how straightforward it would’ve been to unlock the device. Interestingly, this all seems to have taken place at the same time as the FBI’s iPhone struggle… [Gizmodo]

 

Bail Set at $1.5 Million for ‘The Profile Lady’; Suspect in ID Theft Ring Case

Crooks call her ‘The Profile Lady’ and tonight Anh Nguyen is being held on $1.5 million dollars bail. King County prosecutors say Nguyen got the nickname for providing victim’s personal information or profiles to a ring of thieves who then opened credit card accounts. Nguyen and her mom, Kim Le, are accused of running a massive ID theft ring that stole $395,000 from victims. Nguyen was out on bail when detectives say she was spotted at Sam’s Club last week with a co-defendant opening an account on a victim’s name and charging $4,000 worth of jewelry. “Ms. Nguyen had been out on $500,000 bail and that did not stop her from continuing to commit more crimes,” said Senior Deputy Prosecutor MafeRajul… [Fox News]

 

LP Worldwide: Thieves Steal 104 iPhones from Wakayama Store

Police said thieves drove a car through the glass door entrance of a mobile phone store in Wakayama City on Thursday morning and stole 104 iPhones worth about 9.65 million yen ($90,225 US). According to police, the incident occurred at around 5:10 a.m. at the au Shop Oda, Sankei Shimbun reported. Police said surveillance camera footage showed a silver car smashing through the front door and 5-6 men getting out. A local resident who heard the noise called 110 but by the time police arrived five minutes later, the men and the car had already gone… [Japan Today]

 

Man Stuffs Python in Pants at Pet Store

A man is facing theft charges after he tried to steal a snake from a pet store in St. Petersburg. Deputies said Travis Treder went into Animal House Pet Center and put a baby python down his left front pocket. Chaos erupted at the pet store as employees tried to stop him. “He’s been in twice before over the past nine months and we didn’t realize he stole anything until after the fact,” store owner Steve Silk said. Surveillance video shows the suspect grab the snake from its enclosure and put it in his pants. Silk then confronts him. “We waited on him for probably 15 minutes and then we went into the office to see what he was going to do, and sure enough, he targeted our higher-end snakes again,” Silk said. Silk also said Treder has stolen snakes and lizards on two separate occasions in the last nine months… [CBS News]

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