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Breaking News in the Industry: January 22, 2018

Human resources manager defrauded store of $130,000

A human resources manager at the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in Palmyra, Pennsylvania, reportedly defrauded the company of more than $130,000, North Londonderry Township police said. On Dec. 8, Lowe’s Home improvement reported the theft to N. Londonderry police. Police were advised the company funds that were taken totaled in excess of $80,00,   Over several weeks, police worked with Lowe’s loss prevention and other government agencies to uncover an “elaborate scheme,” involving stolen identities of 46 former employees committed by Kenyan Kinard, a 25-year-old Harrisburg resident and human resources manager at Lowe’s. Kinard was taken into custody on Thursday. Beginning in July, Kinard began changing the employment status of employees who had left the company, N. Londonderry police said. Instead of making the employee inactive, Kinard would list them still as active. He would alter company software to show a pay increase for each employee and W-4 tax documents were then changed to show the maximum number of dependents, maximizing the net pay for each employee, police said. Kinard then signed each employee up for a “Money Card,” a debit card that is loaded with the employee’s paycheck.

The Money Cards would then be mailed to the store so the employee was unaware of the activity. Once Kinard had the Money Card, he would withdraw the funds and deposit them in his personal bank account, police said. The fraud was discovered when the issuing company of the Money Cards completed an audit. They noticed an unusually high amount of cards being issued to the Lowe’s store in Palmyra, police said. The Lowe’s corporate office was notified of the discrepancy and assigned a loss prevention officer to investigate. After the investigation, Lowe’s reported a total loss of $130,708. Lowe’s has notified all 46 former employees. Kinard faces numerous charges, including: dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, theft by unlawful taking or disposition, unlawful use of computer and other computer crimes, 46 counts of identity theft, 46 counts of access device fraud and 46 counts of tampering with records or identification. Kinard was arraigned in front of Magisterial District Judge Anthony Verna. His bail was set at $100,000.   [Source: Lebanon Daily News]

Massive credit card scam uncovered by police

Police arrested two Brazilian men for taking part in what appears to be a massive credit card scheme. The men had two credit card skimmers, more than 250 counterfeit credit or bank cards and nearly $140,000 in cash, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. “This case involves suspects traveling around the state of Ohio and placing skimming devices on ATMs and stealing innocent peoples’ personal and financial information,” said Secret Service Special Agent in Charge Jonathan Schuck. “These suspects would then use that information for their financial gain.” Felipe Trovo Pena, 27, and Antonio Pedro de Oliveira Neto, 26, have been charged with conspiracy to commit credit card fraud, use of counterfeit credit cards and possession of counterfeit credit cards. A teller at the Cortland Banks branch in Hubbard helped bust Pena and Neto. The teller called police on Nov. 12, after she saw two men trying to make ATM withdrawals while blocking the camera on the ATM. The bank had just been the victim of fraudulent withdrawals two days earlier, court documents said.

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Pena and Neto were taken into custody and law enforcement launched an extensive investigation into their background. As a result of that investigation, police found a storage unit on W. 61st Street in Cleveland that belonged to the two men. Inside the storage unit, police say they found $139,480 in cash, the true Brazilian passports of Pena and Neto, 420 cards with magnetic strips, including 253 counterfeit cards containing customer account data, two skimming devices, and more, the DOJ said. “These defendants stole personal information from people and then used it to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars through counterfeit bank and credit cards,” U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman said. The indictment against the men said that between August and November 2017 they installed skimming devices on ATMs to capture the magnetic data on credit and debit cards. They then re-encoded counterfeit credit and bank cards. Those counterfeit cards enabled the men to obtain cash, court document said. The investigation was led by the FBI, the Hubbard Police and the Trumbull County Prosecutor’s Office.  [Source: Cleveland Patch]

Shoplifting arrest blows up on Facebook, so NJ cops release video [Viral Video]

Union Township police in New Jersey, released security video of a shoplifting arrest that has been brewing into a possible protest against police conduct. The Jan. 9 arrest at the Target store in the Vauxhall section of the township may have otherwise gone unnoticed if not for a witness who went on a local Facebook group to write about what she saw. “I just got home from the Vauxhall Target where a woman of color with two small children was tackled to the ground at the front entrance by two white male cops,” the South Orange resident shared with SOMA Justice, a Facebook group for South Orange and Maplewood residents interested about social justice and race issues. The conversation was picked up by The Village Green and other local news sites. But video that police allowed New Jersey 101.5 to view on Thursday does not show police tackling the woman. The video, which police obtained from the store’s security cameras, shows a plainclothes loss prevention associate race after the woman who pushed her cart of $850 worth of goods out the front door without paying. Two uniformed officers then escort the woman and the cart back inside. It appears that both officers each grab an arm and the woman bends her knees, dropping to the floor. The officers appear to bend down to pick her up.

Unable to arrest her, the officers hold onto the woman on the floor for several minutes until three more officers arrive. During the struggle, which was captured by two cameras, the two officers appear to try to wrest the woman’s arms behind her back, but the woman appears to resist, keeping her arms locked in front of her. Capt. Scott Breslow said the officers did not use as much force as they would have with a man, but the 240-pound, 5-foot-7 woman proved difficult for the officers to arrest. Police say the 29-year-old woman refused to cooperate and tried to kick the officers. Iman Barnes, an Orange resident, was charged with resisting arrest and shoplifting. Police also found that she had a warrant for her arrest out of Secaucus, where she had been accused of shoplifting from a Walmart in July. She also had a shoplifting warrant out of Woodbridge. Kadijah White said Wednesday, before the video had been released, that residents of neighboring Maplewood were considering protesting the police and Target, but “we want to make sure that we have all of the details.” “Is it a racial issue? Quite possibly, if you believe any research that we’ve seen on the disparate treatment of black and white people who are suspected of different crimes,” she said. “I think everyone can agree that police officers have a job to do and that they’re trying to do best by their job, but I think that there’s a lot of times where things can be handled differently, in particular when children are involved.”  [Source: New Jersey 101.5 News]

Officer assaulted after confronting shoplifting suspect wearing jacket full of stolen goods [Viral video]

A man was arrested after allegedly stuffing his jacket full of stolen grocery store items, and then assaulting an officer who confronted him about his “big belly…” It was all caught on video. According to Wickliffe, Ohio, police, it happened Wednesday at about 9:20 p.m. near a grocery store on Lakeshore Boulevard. Police were notified of a shoplifter at the store who was last seen on foot — shortly after, an officer spotted the man on Worden Road. The officer confronted the man, who then tried to run. The officer tackled him, and a short struggle ensued. Two Good Samaritans actually came forward to help the officer before additional officers arrived. The man was tasered and eventually handcuffed. The man now faces charges of assaulting an officer, obstructing police and resisting arrest. A post on Wickliffe Police Department’s Facebook page states: “The video is an example of how quickly an incident can escalate and it shows how officers must make quick decisions under stress. Luckily, nobody was seriously injured during the encounter, but the officer and the suspect received some scrapes and bruises.”  [Source: Fox8 News]

Brazen c-store ATM theft caught on camera [Viral Video]

The brazen theft of an ATM at a 7-Eleven in Northwest D.C. was caught on camera early Friday morning. The dramatic video was captured at the 7-Eleven located near the Takoma Metro train station, at about 1:55 a.m. Surveillance footage shows a blue Ford pickup truck backing into the store’s window, smashing the glass and destroying part of the building. Two suspects ran into the store and attempted to lift an ATM into the bed of the truck, but could not lift it. A third suspect had to help and all three suspects, who were wearing black clothing and masks, were able to put the ATM into the truck bed and takeoff after struggling with the ATM for about five minutes. Investigators said the pickup truck, which was stolen on Thursday, was later found at the intersection of Piney Branch Road and Dahlia Street, Northwest.
Authorities said parts of the ATM were found at Piney Branch Road and Eastern Avenue, Northwest.

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The manager of the 7-Eleven told FOX 5 that one of the clerks working at the store at the time of the theft was taken to the hospital after being shaken up by the ordeal. “The last four days, we have filed four shoplifting incidents, and a month-and-a-half ago, we got robbed at gunpoint here,” said store manager Jasjeet Khanuja. “So it is not surprising. We have been asking for increased police presence and hopefully now with this incident, we can actually get it.” Investigators said these types of crimes are becoming more commonplace. “It’s all over the region,” said D.C. Police Commander Will Manplaza. “Not just here. We have had several over the years and in the surrounding jurisdictions. I think those ATM machines are easier to steal because they are not connected to the wall like a traditional bank. They are kind of by themselves. They are not that heavy. So as you can see, a few people can actually pick it up and take it.” Anyone with information that could aid detectives in their investigation was urged to call the Metropolitan Police Department’s Command Information Center at (202) 727-9099.  [Source: Fox5 News]

Retailer cutting more than 1,000 corporate jobs

Walmart is reportedly cutting more than 1,000 corporate jobs, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Friday. Pink slips are expected to be handed out by the end of the company’s fiscal year on Jan. 31, the sources said. “We’ve been looking at our structure for some time as we explore ways to operate more effectively,” a Walmart spokesman told Retail Dive. “We’re not going to comment on rumors and speculation.”  The news comes just days after the company touted plans to boost starting hourly pay to $11 an hour, among other benefits, as well as an abrupt Twitter announcement on Thursday that the company is slated to close 63 Sam’s Club stores. [Source: RetailDIVE]

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