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Breaking News in the Industry: October 28, 2016

Gang Stole $6.7 Million Worth of iPhones at Miami Airport

Some crooks steal diamonds, others go for cash. An alleged eight-man gang from Miami, however, went for the real motherlode: over $6.7 million worth of iPhones. Using fake identity documents and a tractor, the group allegedly stole around 23,000 iPhones from Miami International Airport in April of this year, according to an indictment unsealed this week.

This week the FBI announced the arrest of several members of the group to include Yoan Perez, Rodolfo Urra, Misael Cabrera, Rasiel Perez, and Eloy Garcia. The investigation was carried out in collaboration with the Miami-Dade Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations. But it’s the audacity of this scheme that stands out. In October, Perez and others met to discuss using fake identity and shipping documents to steal a load of cargo from the Miami International Airport, the indictment reads.

Perez, Bello and others outfitted a tractor and trailer so it appeared to be operated by Florida International Enterprises Inc., a licensed freight shipping and trucking company from the local area. On the same day, a co-conspirator allegedly drove the custom tractor to the airport, claimed to be a licensed driver, and simply made off with approximately $6,791,636.81 of stolen goods.

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“It was the purpose of the conspiracy for the defendants and their co-conspirators to unjustly enrich themselves by receiving and taking possession of stolen merchandise, which constituted a foreign shipment of freight and property, for resale and profit,” the indictment reads.

Several members of the gang then allegedly helped out by renting storage space for the mass of iPhones, and arranged for several bulk sales to buyers: 100 iPhone 5Ss for $12,500, 80 of the same model for $9,800, and then 40 iPhone 6Ss for $10,000. In all, the indictment includes seven completed transactions, at a total value of $71,400. Clearly, selling over $6 million worth of the phones was going to take some time. [Source: Motherboard]


US charges 61 defendants in call center scam based in India

It can be a frightening call to get — and it’s a familiar one for many thousands of Americans.
Callers posing as tax and immigration agents are threatening arrest, deportation or other punishment unless money is sent to help clear up what they say is a deportation warrant or to cover supposedly unpaid income taxes. The government says it’s a scam that’s tricked at least 15,000 people into shelling out more than $300 million.

In a first-of-its kind nationwide takedown, the Justice Department announced charges Thursday against 61 defendants in the United States and abroad in connection with call center operations based in India. As agents fanned out across the country to make arrests, officials in Washington said they wanted to alert the public that the calls are all part of a scam.

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The indictment, which was issued last week in Houston, charges the defendants — which include five call centers — with crimes including wire fraud, money laundering and false impersonation of an officer of the United States. Authorities served nine warrants in eight states and arrested 20 people in the international fraud and money-laundering investigation.

Though the calls would seem to be obviously bogus, officials say that savvy and successful individuals have been duped, too. The callers would use information about their victims they learned through the Internet to present a facade of authenticity, and the number that appeared on a caller ID seemed to come from a legitimate U.S. government agency. The extorted funds would then be laundered through wire transfers or prepaid debit cards.

“The scammers in this case and so many like it are convincing. They are menacing and they are ruthless in their pursuit of their victims,” said Bruce Foucart of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. “They convey authority that leaves their victims terrified.” [Source: Fox News]


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Feds, NYPD Raid Warehouses in Counterfeit Goods Bust

Several warehouses in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens were raided by police and federal agents on Thursday as authorities tried to sniff out counterfeit designer goods, officials said. NYPD officers and Homeland Security Investigations agents expected to recover knockoff goods valued in the millions during Thursday’s raids. Authorities said that most of the items were imported from China. Among the locations was a handbag store on West 30th Street in midtown, where agents hauled out dozens of boxes of items.

It’s not clear if any arrests have been made in Thursday’s police action. The raids come months after federal agents seized cases upon cases of knockoff designer perfume in March. The faux fragrances contained ingredients linked to cancer and organ damage. More than 3 million counterfeit items have been seized in New York City over the last three years. In total, the real versions of those fake products could fetch $94 million at stores. [Source: NBC News]


Sprint Employee Used Stolen Social Security Numbers to Set Up Accounts

A former employee at the Sprint Store in Brookfield, Wisconsin is charged with identity theft and stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of electronics. According to the criminal complaint, Theodore Harris used stolen social security numbers, birth dates and driver’s license numbers to steal more than $70,000 worth of stuff.

April Teddlie, one of the identity theft victims, lives in Florida and was concerned when Sprint sent her information about her new account and phone. She immediately called the company. “Didn’t even have a Sprint account, don’t think I’ve ever had a Sprint account,” Teddlie said. Turns out she’s one of at least seven people whose personal information was stolen and used to set up fraudulent lease accounts. Lease accounts allow people to pay off items month to month.

Court documents show Harris charged nearly $78,000 worth of iPhones, iPads and other electronics to those fraudulent accounts. Yui Namiki, a spokeswoman for Sprint, says an internal team is working to prevent things like this from happening in the future. [Source: CBS News Milwaukee]


SUV Backs into Glass at High-End Store in $45K Theft

Police have released video of a smash-and-grab at a high-end department store in Philadelphia that shows an SUV back into the store’s glass front and as many as seven suspects from two cars make off with more than $45,000 in men’s clothing.

The video shows a Toyota SUV twice back into a glass window at Boyds Philadelphia early Tuesday and a Mercedes Benz sedan pull off to the side. Several hooded and masked suspects in the video shatter the glass. One suspect dumps an armful of clothes into the sedan. Police say hats, jackets and other items were taken. They found a piece of a bumper outside the store. Police say they believe the SUV has significant rear-end damage. [Source: ABC News Philadelphia]

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