Suspect who operated multi-state credit card skimming operation arrested
A former Orlando-area mobile phone store owner is accused of running multi-state credit card scam that the FBI began investigating after an employee of a Mentor gas station found a skimming device at one of their pumps. Silvio Leon — who served prison time for a similar scheme in Florida — is charged with conspiring to commit access device fraud. He is jailed awaiting his detention hearing in Ohio on Thursday in U.S. District Court. North Olmsted police arrested Leon and the another man after FBI agents tracked their phones from New Jersey through Pennsylvania and back to Ohio, where they had rented a room at the Aloft hotel in North Olmsted, near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The other man has not yet been charged.
The investigation began Feb. 27 after an employee of the BP gas station on Heisley Road in Mentor found the skimming device, according to court records. Mentor police took the device and found it stored about 1,000 people’s credit card information and names, according to court records. Several people reported charges they didn’t make on their bank cards and Mentor police noticed all of them bought gas at the same gas station, according to court filings. All of the fake charges were made at Sam’s Clubs stores in Mentor, Oakwood and Sheffield Village.
FBI agents found that the person who used that particular Sam’s Club Membership card, later identified as Leon, had made more than $120,000 in purchases at the Mentor store alone, according to court records. Investigators also found the same membership card bought items with stolen credit card information elsewhere in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Minnesota. FBI agents looked at surveillance footage from the most recent use of the membership card, compared it to photos in police databases and found a match with Leon. A Florida-based parole confirmed Leon’s identity.
The FBI tracked Leon’s movements after obtaining his cellphone number from a rental car company at the Pittsburgh International Airport. They traced his movements through New Jersey to North Olmsted and found they were stopping at or near several Walmarts or Sam’s Clubs on their four-day trip to Ohio, according to court records. In one case, a North Fayette police officer reported to the FBI the men stopped at a Walmart in that town and bought $400 worth of items with someone’s stolen credit card information, court records say. [Source: Cleveland.com]
Department store burglarized at closing time
A Simi Valley, California, department store was burglarized Sunday evening, just as the business was due to close, police said. The incident was reported just before 9:35 p.m. at Kohl’s in the 2900 block of Tapo Canyon Road. The store’s loss prevention associate reported to police that four men had entered the store around 9 p.m., the location’s closing time, through an unlocked door. The men allegedly took an unknown amount of athletic merchandise before fleeing the scene. Officials said a silver or gold midsized vehicle may have been involved. Simi Valley police advised anyone with information regarding the incident to contact 805.583.6950. [Source: VC Star]
Employee charged with stealing more than $4,000 in merchandise
Police said surveillance footage from a Speedway gas station lead to the arrest of a recently fired employee, who is accused of stealing more than $4,000 in items from the store. Police were alerted to a potential burglary at the gas station in the 10000 block of U.S.1 just after 3 a.m. Tuesday. The business’ alarm company notified the store’s representative a man entered the store at 2:59 a.m. and took items, including lottery tickets and cigars. Police said the man in the surveillance footage appeared to have used a key to enter the business. A store representative told police the only person that had access to the store was Janivan Holland, 19, who recently had been fired, but had not returned his keys.
When police searched Holland’s home, they said a backpack seen in the surveillance footage and containing the items reported stolen was discovered in the teen’s room. Holland, of Port St. Lucie, was accused of stealing $3,389 in lottery tickets, $419.93 in electronic cigarette starter kits, 60 cigars valued at $50.09 and 31 lighters valued at $62. In total, the items stolen were valued at $4,159.02. Police charged Holland with burglary of an unoccupied structure and grand theft of more than $300 but less than $5,000. He was held at the St. Lucie County Jail on a $7,000 bond and released Wednesday. [Source: TCPalm]
Two wanted for allegedly stealing 28 pairs of jeans
Two men are wanted for stealing multiple pairs of Levi’s jeans valued at about $2,000, according to Laredo, Texas, police. Authorities said the case unfolded May 28 at a store located in the 5300 block of San Dario Avenue. The store’s loss prevention personnel told LPD that they saw two men exiting the store with 28 pairs of jeans. One suspect was described as a young man who was wearing a maroon T-shirt while the second suspect was a thin male wearing a white short-sleeved button shirt with a baseball cap, police said. The merchandise stolen was valued at $1,946, authorities said. To provide information on their identities, call police at 795.2800, Laredo Crime Stoppers at 727.TIPS (8477) or text a tip to 847411 and type keyword: Laredo. Information leading to an arrest may be eligible for a cash reward. [Source: LMT Online]
Struggling Fitbit now has 5 ex-employees who face criminal charges
A federal grand jury has returned a criminal indictment against one current and five former Fitbit employees, accusing them of taking trade secrets from their former employer, Jawbone, to their new jobs at Fitbit. Jawbone went out of business as of July 2017 and is currently undergoing liquidation proceedings. The two fitness gadget companies were previously staunch competitors and had sued one another multiple times. On its own, Fitbit has its own problems, too. The company’s stock price has collapsed since its $32.50 per share debut on the New York Stock Exchange roughly three years ago. Today, Fitbit stock trades at around $7.42 per share. Fitbit has lost more than $380 million from 2016 through 2017, wiping out its two earlier profitable years. Its number of devices sold has plummeted from 22.2 million in 2016 to 15.3 million in 2017.
This is not the company’s first brush with federal authorities. In February 2017, Jawbone said in a California state court filing that Fitbit was facing a criminal probe into its behavior. At the time, Fitbit denied any wrongdoing. “After a full examination of the issues and Fitbit’s resounding victories at the [United States International Trade Commission], coupled with Jawbone’s complete failure in the marketplace and reported insolvency, Jawbone is now attempting to exert leverage against Fitbit in civil litigation pending in the California state court,” Fitbit said in a February 2017 statement sent to Fortune. “Fitbit is cooperating with the US Attorney’s Office to demonstrate, once again, that these allegations are without merit.”
The named defendants include six former and current Fitbit employees: Katherine Mogal, 52, of San Francisco; Ana Rosario, 33, of Pacifica; Patrick Narron, 41, of Boulder Creek; Patricio Romano, 37, of Calabasas; Rong Zhang, 45, of El Cerrito; and Jing Qi Weiden, 39, of San Jose. Mogal faces six counts, while Weiden only faces one—the others range between two and five counts. It was not immediately clear which of these six is the current Fitbit employee. According to their LinkedIn profiles, Rosario and Narron left the company years ago.
Authorities say each had worked for Jawbone for at least a year between May 2011 and April 2015 and allegedly violated their confidentiality agreement. While working for Jawbone, they were seemingly recruited to work for Fitbit, and, prosecutors claim, took trade secrets along. “Intellectual property is the heart of innovation and economic development in Silicon Valley,” said Acting US Attorney Alex Tse in a statement. “The theft of trade secrets violates federal law, stifles innovation, and injures the rightful owners of that intellectual property. This office, together with our law enforcement partners, is committed to protecting the intellectual property rights and economic security of this district.” The defendants are scheduled to make their first appearance in court on July 9, 2018, at 1:30 pm before US Magistrate Judge Virginia K. DeMarchi in San Jose. [Source: ars Technica]
‘A nation of second chances’: Former convict is now a lawyer
One of Washington’s newest attorneys is a former convict. Seattle University Law School graduate Tarra Simmons was sworn in as a lawyer Saturday, seven months after the state Supreme Court ruled that she could take the bar exam despite her past, KING-TV reported. “I hope that this sends a message to people that you are never defined by your worst mistakes,” she said at her swearing-in.
Simmons was convicted of assault in 2001 and of organized retail theft, unlawful possession of a firearm and drug possession in 2011, following a battle with addiction. In all, she has served more than three years in prison, and she went through two bankruptcies and the foreclosure of her home. But a lot of lawyers helped her along the way, she said, and that helped inspire her to attend law school.
The Washington State Bar Association’s character and fitness board nevertheless recommended against her being allowed to practice law, saying she had failed to demonstrate that she would exercise good judgment and conduct herself with a high degree of degree of honesty and integrity. The state Supreme Court unanimously disagreed with that decision. The justices credited Simmons with being open about her past, showing remorse, seeking treatment and serving as an outspoken advocate for legal aid. “This day is the finale of a really long and hard journey that started when I was in prison,” she said. “When I was at my lowest moment, I never thought that it would be this amazing.” Simmons hopes to work with those re-entering society after their prison terms. “We are a nation of second chances and a state of second chances, and we need more of that and less barriers and less hate,” she said. [Source: HeraldNet]