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Breaking News in the Industry: June 5, 2018

Restaurant employees accused of stealing more than $300K

Two employees of Dockside Willies in Wormleysburg, Pennsylvania, were arrested Wednesday for allegedly stealing money from the restaurant. Steven Tomberlain, 49, and Shawn Fickes, 42, face charges of theft by deception and unlawful use of computer. The alleged theft occurred over multiple years. Police say the two individuals stole more than $300,000 from the restaurant. Tomberlain and Fickes were taken into custody without incident. Bail was set at $50,000. They then were transported to Cumberland County Prison.   [Source: Fox43]

Third Cuban National sentenced to prison for identity theft and credit card fraud scheme with 54 victims

The third of three Cuban nationals who traveled across sixteen Iowa counties in 2017 and used at least fifty-four stolen identities and card numbers to make fraudulent purchases were sentenced to federal prison yesterday. Liliany de Armas Mena, 21, resident of Kentucky, was sentenced to three years in prison after a guilty plea to conspiracy to commit access device fraud and aggravated identity theft.  Pedro Alvarez Rodriguez, age 36, and Dunieski Santana Moreno, age 27, residents of Florida, were both previously sentenced in April to 42 months and 40 months in federal prison, respectively, after guilty pleas to the same offenses.

“Identity theft plagues Americans and financial institutions across the country and has a real impact on people’s everyday lives,” said United States Attorney Peter Deegan.  “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to protect innocent Iowans from these schemes and hold the perpetrators accountable.”   “This sentencing sends a strong message to those who attempt to defraud honest citizens and businesses in our communities without consequences.” said Tracy J. Cormier, Special Agent in Charge of HSI St. Paul. “I am proud of the work done by HSI special agents and the Waverly Police Department during this investigation and commend their efforts to put these criminals out of business.”

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According to plea agreements and other information presented in court, de Armas Mena, Alvarez Rodriguez, and Santana Moreno perpetrated an identity theft and credit card fraud spree across the state of Iowa, using counterfeit credit cards containing at least fifty-four “skimmed” account numbers of victims.  They used these fake cards to purchase gift cards and gift card reloads at Walmart stores. The scheme was designed to evade detection by moving across county borders to stay ahead of authorities, using self-checkout registers to make their repetitive transactions with multiple victims’ cards, and using locally “skimmed” numbers of mostly Iowa victims. De Armas Mena was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by Chief United States District Court Judge Leonard T. Strand to 36 months’ imprisonment and two years of supervised release to follow.  All three have been ordered to make $5,655.08 in joint and several restitution to victims.  There is no parole in the federal system.

In sentencing the defendants, Chief Judge Strand condemned the “extremely disturbing” crimes, commenting that the defendants were parasites motivated by greed, who made the decision over and over to steal and make their livings off others’ hard-earned money. De Armas Mena is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until she can be transported to a federal prison. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lyndie M. Freeman and investigated by Homeland Security Investigations and the Waverly Police Department.  [Source: WISC54 News]

Police arrest man suspected of armed shoplifting

A man suspected of using a knife to threaten employees at a Juneau, Alaska, store has been arrested. The Juneau Empire reports 39-year-old Patrick “Biscuit” Kane Jr. was charged Saturday with robbery, felony assault and theft. Loss prevention associates in Juneau’s Home Depot on May 22 told police they tried to stop a man who left the store with $400 in unpaid merchandise. The LP associates struggled with the man and a customer tried to hold the suspect. The witnesses said the man pulled out a knife, threatened to stab the associates and the customer, ran off and fled in a blue pickup truck. Store LP associates identified a second man who had been with the suspect. The second man was found with unpaid items underneath his clothing and charged with concealment of merchandise.    [Source: KTUU2 News]

Employee pleads guilty to stealing trade secrets

A Walmart employee has pleaded guilty to stealing the company’s data and supplying it to his next employer, which was a vendor for the retail giant. John Stan Harmon pleaded guilty Friday in US District Court to one count of theft of trade secrets. Harmon worked as a buyer in the furniture department for the Bentonville-based retailer, which gave him access to “highly sensitive” information on profit margins, production, and pricing for items bought and sold by Walmart and its subsidiaries, according to the US attorney’s office.

Before leaving Walmart in October 2016, Harmon obtained pricing and production information on thousands of the retailer’s outdoor products. Harmon then sent the information to his private email and later forwarded it to certain executives at Outdoor Leisure Products, where he subsequently went to work, according to federal court documents. Outdoor Leisure Products is based in Neosho, Missouri, and makes grills, smokers and related accessories. The company didn’t immediately respond to messages left Friday. Walmart said it didn’t suffer “any identifiable financial loss” through the theft, but said the information Harmon stole is “highly valuable to both vendors and competitors,” according to court documents. Harmon later told federal investigators he knew the information he shared was proprietary data.

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Walmart spokesman Randy Hargrove said the company takes seriously the protection of its trade secrets and business information. “We will take action if they are misappropriated,” Harmon said. “Once we learned that Mr. Harmon improperly transferred sensitive information outside the company, we reported it to federal law enforcement.” Hargrove didn’t know whether Outdoor Leisure Products was still a vendor for Walmart, but one of the company’s products was for sale Friday on Walmart’s website via Hargrove stressed that Harmon’s actions were his alone and not reflective of Outdoor Leisure Products. Harmon is free on a $5,000 bond. A sentencing hearing hasn’t been set. Stealing trade secrets is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.    [Source: 5News Online]

Employee arrest follows fraudulent returns

Police officers arrested a Bridgeport, Connecticut, woman on larceny charges for making fraudulent returns to HomeGoods, police said today. According to the arrest report, officers on were dispatched to HomeGoods on a report of an employee theft.  Store loss prevention professionals reported that Sasha Bennett, 28, made three fraudulent returns on two different dates in April.  An arrest warrant application for Bennett was submitted and later granted. The Greenwich Police Department contacted Westport Police Headquarters that they had Bennett in custody. Westport officers responded and took Bennett to Westport, charging her with sixth-degree larceny. Bennett was released after posting $2,500 bond and is scheduled to appear in Norwalk Superior Court on Friday.  [Source: Westport Now]

Suspect steals some items, fraudulently returns others, all at same time

In Michigan, a 53-year-old Brownstown Township woman was arrested for not only trying to conceal merchandise from a store, but also for taking items throughout the store and attempting to “return” them for store credit, according to Woodhaven police. The incident occurred at Walmart  in Woodhaven. According to a police report, the woman concealed several items, including false fingernails, clothing, a slip and shoes. She also allegedly went through the store and grabbed various items and took them to customer service in an attempt to return them for store credit. The report said the store clerk completed the fraudulent return and the woman left the store. A loss prevention associate was quick to stop and detain her until police arrived. She was released on a personal recognizance bond due to her having a medical condition, and was picked up by family members at the police station.   [Source: The News-Herald]

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