Breaking News in the Industry: August 17, 2018

Duo admit to stealing more than $40,000 using credit card skimmers

Two Florida residents, who prosecutors said used electronic devices to illegally skim credit card numbers from gas stations through Virginia and North Carolina for eight months, were sentenced on federal charges Monday. Yunior Manuel Torres-Blanco, 25, of Hialeah, Fla., was sentenced earlier this week to 42 months (3.5 years) in prison.  Ynaisel Garcia, 22, also of Hialeah, was sentenced to 36 months (3 years) in prison. They both pleaded guilty to one count each of aggravated identity theft and one count of credit card fraud. Garcia also pleaded guilty to four counts filed in North Carolina, conspiracy to commit access device fraud and three counts of access device fraud.

“These defendants stole the identities of hard-working Virginians and caused tens of thousands of dollars in financial loss,” United States Attorney Thomas Cullen stated. “I am grateful for the hard work of the Roanoke County Police Department and the Secret Service in bringing them to justice.” Investigators determined that between December 2016 to August 2017, the two suspects placed credit card skimmers on various gas pumps throughout Virginia and North Carolina, capturing the credit card information of customers purchasing gas. As part of the scheme, Torres-Blanco and Garcia were able to get the stolen credit card information from the skimmers, create new cards using the stolen numbers, and used them to buy gift cards, services, and merchandise. In August 2017, a Roanoke County detective recognized a vehicle with Florida plates traveling in Botetourt County as one similar to a vehicle suspected of being involved in a gas pump credit card skimming scheme. It was determined that the two suspects were inside.

When approached by police for a traffic stop, Garcia tried to elude officers and Torres-Blanco threw items, later identified as gift cards, from the window. Once they stopped the vehicle and were able to search it, investigators found two credit card skimmers, a laptop, 68 unopened gift cards, 86 credit cards, 83 of which had been recoded with stolen credit card information, a new 55-inch television, and a new 65-inch television. In all, Torres-Blanco and Garcia obtained more than $40,000 in merchandise, gift cards and services.   [Source: WEARTV3 ABC News]

Couple that fled after shoplifting spotted by off-duty cop

A couple that sped away from Home Depot on Monday morning with unpaid merchandise were later spotted by an off-duty officer and taken into custody. According to police, Home Depot security spotted Kevin Kelly, 34, who had been identified as a shoplifter previously, pick up three DeWalt drills and head for the exit. When he saw security, he allegedly said he forgot something and turned around. However, the report said, he left via another exit, getting into a waiting tan Buick LeSabre.

An on-duty officer heard the car’s description and spotted the car getting onto Interstate 95 southbound, and followed. He pulled in front of the car and activated the lights and told them to move into the breakdown lane. They did, and the officer pulled over. He spotted an infant in a car seat in the back seat. As the officer began to get out of his cruiser, the Buick took off, driving down the breakdown lane, police said. Because of the heavy rain, traffic and the infant in the car, the officer did not engage in a pursuit.

State Police spotted the car near Exit 19, and an off-duty Fairfield officer, who had a radio in his car, saw the car pull into a nearby parking lot. Kelly and the driver, Tracy Hollister, 33, were both taken into custody. The 16-month-old child was turned over to a grandparent and the state Department of Children and Families was notified. On the backseat of the car were the three drills, worth $1,097.

Kelly, of Bassett Road in Branford, was charged with fourth-degree larceny, conspiracy to commit fourth-degree larceny and risk of injury to a minor. He was held in lieu of $1,000 bond and processed for failure to appear warrant out of Branford, which carried a $2,500 bond. Kelly is scheduled to appear in state Superior Court in Bridgeport on Aug. 22. Hollister, who lives on Wilderwood Road in Guilford, was charged with interfering with an officer, risk of injury to a minor and conspiracy to commit fourth-degree larceny. She was released on a promise to appear in Bridgeport on Aug. 22 as well.   [Source: Chron]

Pink Floyd goes after Alibaba to stop the sale of Chinese counterfeit goods

Pink Floyd is asking a judge to help them put a stop to the sale of counterfeit memorabilia from Chinese manufacturers on the Internet and they want websites like Alibaba, Facebook and Google to help them out. According to court documents obtained by The Blast, the legendary band claims a number of unknown companies have been selling counterfeit goods online, claiming the companies go “to great lengths to conceal both their identities and the full scope and interworking of their illegal counterfeiting operation. The band claims the companies use sites like iOffer and Aliexpress and claim they design their listings “so that they appear to unknowing consumers to be authorized online retailers, outlet stores, or wholesalers selling genuine PINK FLOYD products.”

Pink Floyd claims they have not given any of these companies permission to use their trademark and none of them are authorized retailers of their goods. They also claim these companies have incorporated “search engine optimization (SEO) tactics and social media spamming” so their products appear prominently when fans search for Pink Floyd memorabilia. Pink Floyd is seeking an injunction to stop the sale of the counterfeit goods and they want all the counterfeit websites transferred over to them.

The band also wants a judge to issue an injunction against iOffer and Alibaba — as well as Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, Bing and Yahoo — to stop them from providing any services for the offending sites. Pink Floyd is asking for all the profits made by the companies selling the counterfeit goods or $2,000,000 for each and every use of their trademark. A judge has yet to rule.  [Source: The Blast]

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Employee charged with embezzlement

A Wilburton, Oklahoma, man is facing five years imprisonment after being caught ringing up overstock products as returns and keeping the money, court documents state. Roy Edward Harrelson Jr., 45, of Wilburton, was charged July 30 with felony embezzlement, according to court documents filed by the office of District 16 District Attorney Jeffrey Smith. Documents show Harrelson is out of the Latimer County Jail after posting a $500 bond.

According to a probable cause affidavit prepared by Wilburton Police Assistant Chief John Ford, Ford was dispatched July 25 to an auto parts store in Wilburton and met with a man that said he was a loss prevention associate who discovered that the store manager – identified as Harrelson – had been embezzling money.

The loss prevention associate told Ford that Harrelson confessed to him that he had embezzled $1,053.31 in cash from the store, the affidavit states. Ford wrote in his report he went into a room, where Harrelson agreed to speak to the officer after being read his Miranda warning. [Source: McAlester News-Capital]

Robbery, burglary, retail thefts lead to 5- to 10-year sentence

In connection with a dozen separate cases that included a grocery store robbery, a burglary, thefts at various Pennsylvania retail establishments and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, a local man will be serving penitentiary time. Kenneth James Haskey Jr., 31, who had several addresses in the Washington area before he was incarcerated, pleaded guilty to a single count from each of the 12 cases Tuesday in Washington County Court. Assistant District Attorney John Friedmann, as part of a negotiated plea, requested Judge Valarie Costanzo sentence Haskey to 5 to 10 years in prison followed by a decade of probation.
“Are you accepting responsibility?” the judge asked Haskey, who replied, “Yes, I am.”

Costanzo also ordered Haskey to have no contact with any of his victims and pay more than $4,000 in restitution. Haskey’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Jake Mihalov, noted the county jail would compute Haskey’s time served. The robbery at the Interstate Foodland store in Canton Township occurred Jan. 16, 2017, when state police alleged a man they later identified as Haskey through fingerprints requested change and pulled a knife when a 16-year-old cashier opened a register drawer.

In South Strabane Township, police said businesses targeted in April and March for retail thefts included Lowe’s home store, Strabane Square, and Kay’s Jewelers and Jared Vault, Tanger Outlets, where they accused Haskey of grabbing a diamond ring and watch while clerks were showing him merchandise. State police took Haskey into custody after the unauthorized use of a vehicle was reported in April.

According to online court records, Haskey also entered a guilty plea last month in Allegheny County Court to retail theft and driving while his operating privilege was suspended or revoked. Castle Shannon Police Chief Kenneth Truver said the charge was filed in connection with the March 26 theft of a carton of cigarettes from a Sunoco station on Library Road. Haskey was sentenced to 5 to 10 days and fined $200.   [Source: Observer-Reporter]

Retailer wrestles again with inventory, and loses

JCPenney on Thursday reported that second quarter net sales fell 7.5%year over year to $2.8 billion while comparable store sales ticked slightly positive at 0.3%, according to a press release. The company said the top-line sales decline was primarily due to the 141 stores that closed in fiscal 2017.

The department store retailer’s net loss widened in Q2 to $101 million, more than double last year’s Q2 loss. Shares of JCPenny fell 22% in premarket trading as the company’s comps fell below analyst estimates (the FactSet consensus was 1%) and its losses were worse than analysts expected, according to MarketWatch. Executives also reduced their earnings guidance for the year, now expecting flat comps and a loss of up to $1 per share.

Penney said in Q2 that its children’s, jewelry, Sephora, women’s apparel and salon sales were the retailer’s strongest performing categories. Women’s apparel, which has been a point of pain for Penney in past periods, showed positive comps in Q2 and felt “a beneficial impact” from the retailer’s attempts to reposition itself in the category..   [Source: RetailDIVE]

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