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Breaking News in the Industry: March 6, 2018

Thirty-two arrested as alleged massive retail theft, resale ring busted

A large-scale ring that involved pawn shops and “professional retail thieves” was broken up, the Pennsylvania attorney general announced during a press conference in Falls Township Thursday morning. “Operation Booster Club,” according to law enforcement and a grand jury presentment released Thursday morning, involved a ring of alleged crooks that generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue through the purchase and resale of merchandise stolen from chain stores between January 2014 and October 2017. The investigation uncovered that the owners and employees from Levittown Quick Cash Trading Post in the 4000 block of New Falls Road in Bristol Township and Morrisville Loan and Pawn on West Trenton Avenue in Falls Township were purchasing stolen goods from the thieves – known as “boosters” – and would pay them about 30 percent to 40 percent of the stolen item’s retail value. The pawn shop owner and employees would then take the stolen goods to a warehouse before selling them on eBay, according to authorities. Attorney General Josh Shaprio said the items that would be resold fetched retail value or slightly below that amount, making a healthy profit for the pawn shops. Shapiro said many – if not all – of the alleged 27 boosters arrested this week were drug users. Loss prevention associates at CVS, Giant Food, Home Depot, Target, and Walmart stores began noticing a spike in the number of retail thefts in their stores around the Philadelphia region in 2015. Some of the stolen items were tracked by the employees to various pawn shops, including Levittown Quick Cash Trading Post and Morrisville Loan and Pawn, authorities said.

In April 2015, Falls Township police initiated an investigation and began using an informant. Shortly after, the Bucks County Detectives and Bristol Township police began assisting. Falls Sgt. Chris Clark testified before a statewide grand jury recently that the employees at the pawn shops operated on a “don’t ask, don’t tell” basis. The boosters who stole the items did not announce where the goods came from and the employees would purchase the merchandise with no questions asked. The store employees allegedly turned a blind eye to the fact many of the items brought in for resale were new-in-box and boosters had previously admitted to retail thefts. Store employees would frequently suggest boosters pickup gift cards because the businesses could pay an average of 50 percent of face value to the retail thieves, Clark told the grand jury. In Falls and Bristol townships, pawn shops track all purchases through a program called LeadsOnline. The information tracks who sold the items and what the pawn shop paid. Investigators in the case realized the crime ring extended to at least four other businesses in Delaware County, Montgomery County and Philadelphia.Between January 2014 and October 2017, the pawn shop owner and his employees purchased nearly $700,000 worth of stolen goods from boosters, authorities said.  [Source: Levittown Now]

Louisville man accused of stealing from lingerie store; then toys

A Louisville, Kentucky, man was arrested Friday afternoon after police say he committed an armed robbery at a local mall, then tried to steal merchandise from a nearby toy store. According to an arrest report, the incident took place at the Jefferson Mall. Police say 44-year-old Scott Baker stole $108 worth of merchandise from the Victoria’s Secret store and hid it on his person. He then fled the store, but a loss prevention associate saw him and gave chase. Police say at the mall entrance, he “took a bladed stance” and “made a motion to his bag as if to pull a weapon.” As a result, police say the loss prevention associate “felt threatened” and backed off, instead watching Baker and providing updates on his position to other responders. According to the arrest report, Baker then walked into a nearby Toys R Us store and hid $84 worth of merchandise in his bag before he was stopped by police. When officers searched his bag, they allegedly found “a large hunting type knife” that was in a sheath, but readily accessible. According to the arrest report, Baker had already been banned from Victoria’s Secret before any of this happened. The merchandise was returned to the stores. Baker was arrested and charged with theft by unlawful taking, third-degree criminal trespassing and second-degree robbery. He is currently being held in Louisville Metro Corrections.  [Source: WDRB News]

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Uber faces potential $13.5 million lawsuit from AG over data breach

Uber is facing another lawsuit over the massive 2016 data breach. This time, it’s from Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who alleges Uber violated the state’s data breach notification law. Shapiro specifically alleges Uber violated the Pennsylvania Breach of Personal Information Notification Act, which requires companies to notify people impacted by a data breach within a reasonable amount of time. That specific law enables the Attorney General’s office to seek up to $1,000 for each violation. In Pennsylvania,  Shapiro says at least 13,500 Uber drivers were affected. That means Shapiro can seek up to $13.5 million from Uber. “While we make no excuses for the previous failure to disclose the data breach, Uber’s new leadership has taken a series of steps to be accountable and respond responsibly,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement t0 TechCrunch. “We investigated the incident, disclosed the circumstances to state and federal regulators, and reached out to state Attorneys General, including Attorney General Shapiro, to express Uber’s desire to cooperate fully with any investigations. While we dispute the accuracy of some of the characterizations in the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s lawsuit, we will continue to cooperate with them and ask only that we be treated fairly.” As previously reported, Uber did not notify the attorney general’s office until November 21, 2017, more than a year after Uber first discovered the breach. And before Uber reported the breach, the company paid off hackers to destroy the data. “Uber violated Pennsylvania law by failing to put our residents on timely notice of this massive data breach,” Shapiro said in a press release. “Instead of notifying impacted consumers of the breach within a reasonable amount of time, Uber hid the incident for over a year – and actually paid the hackers to delete the data and stay quiet. That’s just outrageous corporate misconduct, and I’m suing to hold them accountable and recover for Pennsylvanians.” In total, the breach affected some 57 million riders and drivers. That affected group included 50 million riders and 7 million drivers, and about 600,000 driver license numbers were included in the breach.”  [Source: TechCrunch]

LP Worldwide: Four-strong ‘shoplifting gang’ arrested at York shopping park

Police in the United Kingdom have arrested a gang of four suspected shoplifters after stores in York Designer Outlet were targeted. The four were found in possession of a number of items suspected to have been stolen from shops at the McArthurGlen mall south of York. Officers received a call from loss prevention staff on Sunday. They had already detained one man, found in possession of suspected stolen property, and were tracking the other members of the gang. A man and a woman had been seen to leave the shopping park and get into a silver Mercedes Benz C-class. Police stopped the car before it left the outlet. On conducting a search of the vehicle, they located a number of items of clothing suspected to be stolen. They also recovered a device believed to have been used to de-tag items. The vehicle was seized and a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft from a shop and driving without insurance. 
A 24-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of going equipped for theft and theft from a shop. Security staff identified another member of the group, who was under surveillance. Police arrested the suspect, who was in possession of a number of suspected stolen items and another suspected de-tagging device. A 24-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of theft from a shop and going equipped to steal. The member of the group who security staff had already detained, a 22-year-old man, was also arrested on suspicion of theft from a shop. All four suspects are from Sheffield. They are currently in police custody. [Source: York Mix]

Mother, daughter accused of shoplifting

The Jasper Indiana Police Department took a Davies’s County mother and daughter into custody Friday evening after responding to the report of shoplifting at the Walmart Supercenter at 4040 N. Newton St. Police called at 7:15 p.m. were told 51-year-old Maria E. Cruz Lopez and 31-year-old Ana Cruz Lopez, both of Washington, were being accused by store asset protection staff of having removed clearance price codes from clearance merchandise and then placing those price code stickers on regularly priced merchandise. The total value of the items the women rang up at a self-checkout station should have been $236.64, according to authorities who reported the women actually paid $45.76. The women were booked into the Dubois County Security Center a short time later on preliminary misdemeanor counts of theft. They posted bond later Friday night. [Source: Dubois County Herald]

Millennials lost money to scams more often than their grandparents

Move over, grandma and grandpa. Your Millennial grandkids reported losing money to financial scams last year than you did, new government data shows. In all, 40% of Americans in their twenties who reported fraud in 2017 indicated they lost money to the schemes, the Federal Trade Commission said last week in its annual data-book of consumer complaints. The percentage surpassed the 18% of U.S. consumers 70 or older who reported they lost money to fraudsters last year, the FTC said. However, the median loss reported by adults in their seventies was $621, and for those aged 80 or over it was $1,092. Both age groups reported a higher median loss than the $400 for those aged 20-29, the data showed. The findings emerged from the first year in which the federal watchdog agency broke out consumer complaint data by age groups. Overall, the data includes 2017 complaints reported by 2.68 million consumers, down from the 2.98 million who reported fraud, identity theft and other consumer problems in 2016.
Consumer complaints about debt collections declined year over year in 2017 but still remained the top complaint category with 23% of all reports. The number of debt collection reports was due in part to complaints submitted by a data contributor who collects them via a mobile app, the FTC said. Identity theft represented the second biggest complaint category, with nearly 14% of all reports. Credit card fraud was the most common type of identity theft that consumers reported, followed by tax fraud. Imposter scams, frauds when someone pretends to be a government official, a loved one in trouble, or someone else, were the third most common complaint. Consumers reported they lost more money to imposter scams — $328 million in all — than any other type of fraud, the report showed. Military consumers reported losing the most to imposter scams, with $16 million in all. “While we received fewer overall complaints in 2017, consumers reported losing more money to fraud than they did the year before,” Tom Pahl, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a statement issued with the data. “This underscores the importance of the FTC’s work in educating consumers and cracking down on the scammers who try to take their money.” [Source: USA Today]

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