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Breaking News in the Industry: February 11, 2019

Card-skimming scheme gets fraudster duo more than 100 charges

More than 100 charges have been filed against two men accused of stealing people’s credit card information using skimmers at gas pumps and spending thousands of dollars after creating fake cards.  Uvar Alexander Valera Esquenazi, age unknown, of Sarasota, Florida, and Renier Ramirez Rodriguez, 20, of Louisville, Kentucky, have each been charged with 77 felony charges and 41 misdemeanor charges by the Bristol Police Department. They face charges of credit/debit card forgery, credit/debit card fraud, obtaining money by false pretense and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Detectives said the men charged apparently placed skimmers on the pumps at gas stations. Once victims used the pumps with their cards, the men were able to take the card information and then create new, basically identical cards, Sergeant Steve Crawford said. The individuals then used those fake cards to make purchases in the area, Crawford said. Police reported that a total of about $8,000 was stolen from Bristol victims. Video footage in multiple jurisdictions has been used to help identify the suspects, Crawford said.   [Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch]

Burglary spree ends with three arrested

In Texas, Parker County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested three individuals in connection with several business burglaries in the area. The three have been identified as Roberto Montavo III, 28, of Fort Worth; Johnny Allen Griffin, 34, of Granbury; and Elizabeth Ernesteien Guandique, 21, of Farmers Branch.

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Criminal Investigations Division Captain Mark Arnett said over the span of five days, 11 retail convenience and doughnut stores reported being burglarized throughout the city of Weatherford and the county. Commonalities and similar links were discovered between the burglaries.

“We joined the Weatherford Police Department to conduct a mutual investigation, Arnett said. “In all of the burglaries the suspects broke into the stores taking cash, food, making pots of coffee and eating breakfast sandwiches before they left.” The vehicle used in the burglaries was located at a local motel, where the suspects were located, according to the sheriff’s office. Each of the suspects were charged with engaging in organized criminal activity.

Arnett said the cases will be filed with the Parker County District Attorney’s Office for consideration of prosecution. “Solving these cases came down to hard work by good investigators and detectives,” Arnett said. “We attribute the arrests and the successful outcome of these cases to our cooperative investigation and positive working relationship with the Weatherford Police Department.”   [Source: Weatherford Democrat]

What’s helping to kill cashierless checkout technology?

A former Walmart executive said shopper theft was a major reason why the company killed Scan & Go, a cashierless-checkout technology, several months after expanding it to more than 100 stores. You think that the theft is bad on self-checkouts? Wait until you try Scan & Go, where nobody is watching the customers out in the aisles,” said Joel Larson, who was Walmart’s head of checkout innovation until October.

A customer tried to leave a Walmart store with a cart filled with about 100 items, only 40 of which were scanned with Scan & Go, Larson said. Walmart recently rolled out a new mobile-checkout program called Check Out With Me that enables roaming Walmart employees to process customers’ payments using handheld devices made by the San Francisco company Innowi, which Larson joined after leaving Walmart.   [Source: Business Insider]

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LP associate threatened with Taser

Police in Connecticut are looking for a man who robbed the Stop & Shop in East Haven on Friday afternoon. The shoplifting suspect was  confronted by a loss prevention associate around 2 p.m. Friday and pulled out a stun gun, according to police. The man activated the stun gun and told the LP associate to step away. The associate was not struck by the stun gun, police said.

The suspect took off into the parking lot with about $150 in meat, according to police. He got into the passenger side of a 2005 black Ford Escape with gray bumpers. The SUV had Connecticut license plate AS-21275. Anyone with information on the identity of the suspect is asked to call East Haven police at 203.468.3820.   [Source: NBC CT News]

Cargo theft recovery amounts to $59,500

Tens of thousands of dollars worth of stolen merchandise was recovered after a search warrant was executed on a property in Morgan County, Colorado. On Monday morning, about 50 law enforcement officers from multiple agencies served a search warrant at an undisclosed location. The search warrant the culmination of months-long investigations into the theft of standard and commercial vehicles as well as commercial cargo theft, a release posted on the Fort Morgan Sheriff’s Office Facebook page said.

On Monday the  Fort Morgan Police Department CIRT (SWAT) Team and Sterling Police Department SWAT Team made entry onto the property. The teams secured the property and the people located there. The suspects were turned over to the investigative departments, but so far no arrests have been made, the release said. After securing the property, several buildings, trailers and cargo containers were searched for stolen vehicles, parts, and cargo. Anyone with information should contact Morgan County Sheriff’s Investigator Kelvin Bernhardt at 970.542.3479 or 970.867.2461.   [Source: 9News]

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Judge’s ruling keeps retailer alive

A bankruptcy judge has blessed a $5.2 billion plan by Sears chairman and biggest shareholder Eddie Lampert to keep the iconic business going. The approval means roughly 425 stores and 45,000 jobs will be preserved. Lampert’s bid through his ESL hedge fund overcame opposition from a group of creditors, including mall owners and suppliers, that tried to block the sale and pushed hard for liquidation.

Even with this latest reprieve, Sears’ long-term survival remains an open question. Lampert hasn’t put forth any specific reinvention plans and the company still faces cutthroat competition from Amazon, Target and Walmart. Lampert steered Sears into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October. The company’s corporate parent, which also owns Kmart, had 687 stores and 68,000 employees at the time of the filing.   [Source: Dallas News]


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