Breaking News in the Industry: January 24, 2019

‘Ghost Employee’ scheme for $93,000

A former Goodwill employee is accused of stealing $93,812 from the company. Cheryl Jennings has been charged with aggregate theft after authorities say she faked payroll records by using her relatives’ names, creating “ghost” employees, and then depositing the money directly into her banking account.

Authorities say the five people “supposedly” employed by Jennings turned out to be her son, ex-boyfriend, daughter, granddaughter-in-law, and a friend.  Authorities say Jennings had the payroll payments deposited into her account from December 2014 until August 2016. Jennings worked as a temporary service manager for Goodwill.   [Source: ABC13 Eyewitness News]

Second fraudster in hotel credit card scam charged

A second worker at a downtown Sioux City, Iowa, hotel has been charged with making more than $32,000 in fraudulent credit card transactions on hotel guests’ credit cards. Sandra Lalumendre, 35, of Sioux City, turned herself in to police Tuesday and was booked into the Woodbury County Jail on charges of first-degree theft, unauthorized use of a credit card and conspiracy to commit a non-forcible felony.

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According to court documents, from May 14 to September 8, Lalumendre and Ethan Ehlers, who worked at the front desk of the Howard Johnson hotel, fraudulently overcharged guests’ credit cards. Once a guest’s card had been charged, either Lalumendre or Ehlers would force a refund through the hotel’s computer system onto a personal credit card.

An investigation discovered that the fraudulent charges and refunds totaled $32,703. The two split the money, court documents said. Evidence, such as credit card dispute forms mailed to the hotel, were shredded in order to hide their actions, which were discovered and reported by a co-worker, court documents said. Ehlers, 19, of Sioux City, was arrested in December and has pleaded not guilty to first-degree theft and credit card fraud.   [Source: Sioux City Journal]

Food delivery robots coming to a university near you

European startup Starship Technologies is bringing its six-wheeled delivery robots to a college campus in Virginia. The company announced Monday that George Mason University will allow students to use their meal plans to have select food and drink orders delivered by the robots. Starship says it’s providing George Mason with at least 25 robots, and orders from Blaze Pizza, Starbucks, and Dunkin’ will be available at the start. More will be added in the “coming weeks,” and each order will cost $1.99 extra.

The delivery bots can carry up to 20 pounds worth of goods, and they’ve been tested in various cities around the world over the last few years, often in partnership with services like DoorDash or Postmates. Starship’s robots are able to drive themselves on sidewalks, over curbs, and operate in rain or snow and at night, according to the startup. They navigate around people and other objects thanks to cameras embedded around the robot’s exterior. While Starship’s robots have been operating for a while around the world, the company’s not the first to trial campus deliveries. Rival startup Kiwi has had its robots roaming UC Berkeley in California since last summer, but ran into some trouble when one robot caught fire this past December.   [Source: The Verge]

Shoplifting suspect killed by police identified

Authorities say a shoplifting suspect has been killed while fleeing from police in suburban St. Louis. The Missouri State Highway Patrol has identified the driver of the fleeing car as 21-year-old Arman Memetovic. Police in St. Ann said the chase started Saturday after security at a Menards store spotted a man and woman stealing items. The man told security he had a gun before fleeing.

An officer then spotted the getaway car, which crashed into another vehicle less than a minute after the officer began a pursuit. Two others in the fleeing car and the driver of the vehicle that was hit sustained serious injuries. Memetovic had recent court cases for drug possession and trespassing.   [Source: Fox2 Now]

Seasonal employee loads up on electronics on her last day

A Target seasonal employee in Pasco County was arrested last week for stealing thousands of dollars worth of electronics from the store on her last day. Deputies arrested 22-year-old Katelynn Wilson on Friday for a theft that happened earlier this month at the Target on Dale Mabry Highway in Lutz.

According to an arrest report, a security camera inside the store caught Wilson and another person stealing on her last day of work at the store as a seasonal employee. The other person, who deputies did not identify, was a former employee at the same store. Deputies say the security video shows Wilson take three iPads and two Fitbit watches from the high dollar electronics cage in the stock room. The merchandise was worth $2,139 total.

Wilson then handed the items off to the other person in the store, who concealed them in a tote bag. The second person left with the merchandise without paying, deputies say. The arrest report says both Wilson and the other person were identified by former co-workers and the store’s loss prevention staff. Wilson was arrested for grand theft retail. No details have been released about the second person involved.   [Source: WFLA News Channel8]

Apple Pay is now accepted at 74 of the top 100 merchants in the US

It’ll soon be getting much easier to pay with your smartphone at Target. The retailer, which had been a major holdout, announced in a blog post Tuesday that it will soon accept Apple Pay, Google Play, Samsung Pay as well as “contactless cards” from Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Discover in all of its stores. Apple separately announced that in addition to 1,850 Target stores in the U.S., Apple Pay will be accepted at more than 7,000 Taco Bell stores, at more than 245 Hy-Vee supermarkets in the Midwest, at around 3,000 Speedway convenience stores, and more than 2,200 Jack in the Box locations.

Apple Pay is now accepted at 74 of the top 100 merchants in the US and 65 percent of all retail locations across the country – with the technology used more than any of the other secure mobile payment solutions.  Last year, Costco completed the rollout of Apple Pay in more than 500 of its US warehouses, and CVS Pharmacy and 7-Eleven also came on board. In a retail store, consumers can pay through Apple Pay by waving their iPhone or Apple Watch near a contactless NFC-type checkout terminal. The drill is similar with Android phones and other wearables.

In December 2017, Target launched a Wallet feature in its own app that let customers scan to pay at checkout through their phones and an underlying Target REDcard credit or debit card. And you’ll still need to use that app to get the 5 percent discounts and receive other perks through the REDcard; you cannot use the REDcard through Apple Pay. The rollout of Apple Pay, Google Pay, Samsung Pay, and contact-less cards at Target will take place over the next few weeks.   [Source: USA Today]

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