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Breaking News in the Industry: April 2, 2018

Suspect in fatal officer-involved shooting ID’d

Following up on a story we brought to you in Friday’s LPM Insider, authorities have identified the suspect killed in an officer-involved shooting outside a Walmart in Lower Macungie Township, Lehigh County earlier this week. Police identified the suspect Friday as 26-year-old Aaron Ibrahem, of Mertztown, Pennsylvania. Police say Ibrahem fired at a Pennsylvania State Police trooper outside the Walmart on Wednesday while inside his vehicle. That’s when the trooper, a four-year veteran of the force, opened fire, striking the man. Ibrahem was pronounced dead at the scene. Police say it all began when the suspected shoplifter entered the Walmart at 1091 Mill Creek Road around 9 p.m. wearing a mask and wig. The man was in the store for 15 minutes and loading up a cart when a loss prevention officer noticed him. Police say Ibrahem fit the description of someone involved in a recent theft at a Walmart in Schuylkill County in early March. The loss prevention officer followed him around the store and contacted Pennsylvania State Police and a trooper arrived two minutes later.Police say Ibrahem saw the trooper and attempted to leave the Walmart store. The trooper spotted him and when he told him to stop, the suspect took off running. Police say while the suspect was running, he pulled out a gun. When he got into his vehicle, police say the suspect fired his gun, and that’s when the trooper opened fire. Police say the suspect’s .40 glock was recovered at the scene.  [Source: CBS3 Philly]

Priest accused of embezzling $5M from his church

A Catholic priest accused of embezzling more than $5 million from his central Michigan church spent about $100,000 on an indoor swimming pool and stained glass windows for his six-bedroom, 12-bathroom home, according to a lawsuit seeking to recoup some of the money. In addition to the $45,000 indoor pool and nearly $55,000 in stained glass windows, the Rev. Jonathan Wehrle spent more than $134,000 on landscaping at his 10-acre estate in Williamston and other properties, according to the lawsuit filed by Princeton Excess and Surplus Lines Insurance Corporation, which insures the Catholic Diocese of Lansing. Wehrle faces six counts of embezzling $100,000 or more from St. Martha Church in Okemos, which is just east of Lansing and about 70 miles west of Detroit. Prosecutors allege that Wehrle spent the money on himself, including building and maintaining the estate. The home, which has 10 fireplaces and three barns, was appraised at $1.28 million in 2012, when construction was only halfway complete, according to court records. Police said bills for work on the property matched checks written from St. Martha. Wehrle’s defense attorney, Lawrence Nolan, said the pastor had family money and an agreement with a bishop, now deceased, to use parish funds for a private residence.  Assistant prosecutor Andrew Stevens has said that Wehrle, who founded St. Martha in 1988, had “maintained pretty autonomous control” for nearly 30 years. Princeton Excess also sued Wehrle this month after learning he wasn’t paying property taxes and that his homeowner’s insurance had lapsed, according to attorney Randy Marmor. Wehrle’s estate was placed into receivership after a judge approved the insurer’s request Wednesday, the Lansing State Journal reported . The insurer said it’s paid out about $2.5 million to the diocese so far and wants to protect assets to cover those losses. [Source: Money]

Store employee stole more than $22,500

An employee who police said stole more than $22,500 from a Hamden, Connecticut, pharmacy was arrested this week. Jamal Heath, 19, of West Haven was arrested Tuesday and charged with first-degree larceny, police said. He was released on a promise to appear in Superior Court in Meriden on April 11. According to police, the thefts happened between July of 2017 and January of 2018 at the Apex Pharmacy, 2380 Dixwell Ave. Police received a complaint from the store on Jan. 29. Det. John Marks investigated and learned that Heath would remove an item from the shelf — 293 in all — and “scanned it as a return” onto his personal debit card, police said. The alleged theft totaled $22,742.95, they said. [Source: Hartford Courant]

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LP Worldwide: RCMP arrest 26 in LP Blitz

Earlier this month, Richmond RCMP and loss prevention associates in Canada teamed up to conduct a coordinated blitz in some of the cities retail centres leading to 26 arrests over a two-day period. “This latest operation pleasantly surprised us with the wide cross-section of offences and offenders,” said Sgt. Simon Lee in a press release. Items stolen during the blitz on March 14 and 15 were very diverse and included bed sheets, toothbrushes, a coffee maker and pregnancy tests. “Local loss prevention associates (LPAs) and the Richmond Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Crime Reduction Unit work closely with one other on a regular basis. LPAs work to protect their employer’s assets while the Richmond RCMP works tirelessly to reduce property crime in the City of Richmond,” Lee said. Those who were arrested weren’t just from Richmond, but also Vancouver, Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam and Edmonton. Offences weren’t just limited to theft, but commission of fraud and breach of undertaking. Some suspects were arrested for outstanding warrants both within and outside of Richmond. [Source: Richmond News]

$5M in counterfeit cellphone parts, $1.1M in cash seized

Authorities seized about $5 million in counterfeit cellphone components and accessories, along with $1.1 million in cash, from two Wantagh, New York, men who used them to repair cellphones that they sold as new, Nassau County officials said Thursday. The arrests of Gurcharan Luthra, 37, and Sumesh Pasricha, 48, on Monday followed a four-month investigation into the duo, who authorities say received shipments from China and sold the goods on the internet, a store called AMS World in Wantagh and their shared residence. representatives from Nassau police, the Nassau County Distric Attorney’s office, Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection seized a multitude of the products, which were spread out across three long tables during the Thursday news conference in Levittown. Luthra and Pasricha were arraigned Wednesday in First District Court in Hempstead. Luthra is charged with two counts of counterfeiting second-degree, and Pasricha is charged with counterfeiting second-degree and conspiracy fifth-degree.

The two men repaired Apple and Samsung phones using the counterfeit parts, repackaged the phones in counterfeit boxes with authentic-looking labels, and sold them throughout the metropolitan area, authorities said. “We call them Frankenstein phones,” said Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder. He stressed the dangers of such fake goods. “The batteries go on fire, and they have poisonous stuff that could end up in your child’s hands,” he said. Police also seized a 2016 Mercedes-Benz and two 2015 Toyotas. Nassau District Attorney Madeline Singas said the investigation into the cellphone counterfeiting scheme was named Operation Bad Apples because of the volume of counterfeit Apple and Samsung products that were being sold. “These defendants allegedly went out of their way to outfit boxes with fake labels and serial numbers, duping customers into thinking they were buying legitimate products,” she said.  [Source: NewsDay]

Card data stolen from 5M retail customers

Saks has been hacked — adding to the already formidable challenges faced by the luxury retailer.A well-known ring of cybercriminals has obtained more than five million credit and debit card numbers from customers of Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor, according to a cybersecurity research firm that specializes in tracking stolen financial data. The data, the firm said, appears to have been stolen using software that was implanted into the cash register systems at the stores and that siphoned card numbers until last month. The Hudson’s Bay Company, the Canadian corporation that owns both retail chains, confirmed on Sunday that a breach had occurred. “We have become aware of a data security issue involving customer payment card data at certain Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks Off 5th and Lord & Taylor stores in North America,” the company said in a statement. “We have identified the issue, and have taken steps to contain it. Once we have more clarity around the facts, we will notify our customers quickly and will offer those impacted free identity protection services, including credit and web monitoring.” Hudson’s Bay said that its investigation was continuing but that its e-commerce platforms appeared to have been unaffected by the breach. The company declined to identify how many customer accounts or stores were affected.

The theft is one of the largest known breaches of a retailer and shows just how difficult it is to secure credit-card transaction systems despite the lessons learned from other large data breaches, including the theft of 40 million card numbers from Target in 2013 and 56 million card numbers from Home Depot in 2014. Last year, Equifax, a credit reporting firm, disclosed that sensitive financial information on 145.5 million Americans had been exposed in a breach of the company’s systems. The research firm that identified the Saks breach, Gemini Advisory, said on Sunday that a group of Russian-speaking hackers known as Fin7 or JokerStash posted online on Wednesday that it had obtained a cache of five million stolen card numbers, which the thieves called BIGBADABOOM-2. The hackers, who have also hit other retail chains, offered 125,000 of the records for immediate sale. Fin7 did not disclose where the numbers had been obtained. But the researchers, working in conjunction with banks, analyzed a sample of the records and determined that the card numbers all seemed to have been used at Saks and Lord & Taylor stores, mostly in New York and New Jersey, from May 2017 to March 2018.  [Source: The New York Times]

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