Breaking News in the Industry: March 6, 2019

High-speed pursuit, 3 arrests after shoplifting incident

Three people from Connecticut are under arrest after an alleged shoplifting incident in Massachusetts led to a police pursuit. West Springfield Police said that around 5:30 p.m. Sunday, officers were called to Home Depot for a shoplifting in progress. However, before police arrived, three suspects reportedly fled in a Toyota Sienna minivan with stolen Connecticut license plates.

A West Springfield police officer saw the vehicle on Route 5 north and tried to stop it, but the van fled onto I-91 south and then I-291 east. “As the Toyota was pursued it made several evasive maneuvers during the 8-minute pursuit, as speeds reached 75 mph,” police explained in a Facebook post. The pursuit came to an end after the vehicle pulled into a business on the 400 block of Burnett Road in Chicopee and those inside the van surrendered.

Police arrested Michael Masselli of West Haven, CT, James Cuneo of Hamden, CT, and Bianca Flores of North Haven, CT.  Each are charged with larceny over $1,200. Masselli is also facing additional charges including failure to stop for police and receiving stolen property under $1,200. During a search of the van, investigators reportedly recovered $2,944.20 in electrical supplies that police said are needed to wire a home or small business.   [Source: Western Mass News]

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Employee takes a car from dealership to rob c-store

A Maryland man was ordered held without bail Tuesday after sheriff’s deputies said he used an SUV he took from the car dealership where he worked to rob a 7-Eleven at knife-point. Allen Michael Hooks, 27, took an Audi SUV from the Ourisman Audi dealership where he works as a subcontractor and drove it to the gas station and convenience store Monday, according to court charging documents.

Hooks entered the store wearing a shirt with eye holes cut into it over his face and threatened a cashier and a customer with a knife, according to charging documents filed in Frederick County District Court. “I have a knife. Give me all the cash,” Hooks told the manager working the store’s cash register, according to the documents.

Hooks was charged with armed robbery, robbery, theft from $100 to $1,500, theft from $25,000 to $100,000, theft from $1,500 to $25,000, possession of drug paraphernalia and drug possession. He was also charged with three counts of second-degree assault and two counts each of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, reckless endangerment and the unauthorized removal of property.   [Source: The Frederick News-Post]

FTC report says fraud cost Americans $1.8B in 2018

More Americans reported losing money to fraud and scams in 2018 when compared with the year prior.The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said in a recent report that it received 3 million consumer complaints, including more than 1.4 million fraud reports, with people claiming to have lost money in about one-quarter of those reports. Overall, Americans reported losing $1.48 billion… an increase of nearly 40 percent when compared with 2017.

Surprisingly, it was younger individuals that reported losing money to scammers at a higher rate. Of the people who reported fraud and their age, 43 percent were in their 20s, while only 15 percent were in their 70s, according to the FTC. It is possible that younger people were more likely to report fraud, a fact not addressed by the report.

The top three states for fraud and other related reports (per 100K population) were Florida, Georgia and Nevada. For identity theft reports – Georgia, Nevada and California. The lowest number of identity theft reports (per 100K population) were found in Vermont, Iowa, South Dakota and Maine.   [Source: Fox Business]

Nigerian national sentenced for concealing evidence in record-setting fraud case

A Nigerian citizen who had been living in Canada was sentenced Monday, in US federal court to 10 years in prison for obstructing justice in a multi-million dollar fraud case. Michael Adefemi Adeyemo, also known as Adekunle Olufeni Adetiloye, was previously sentenced in 2012 in North Dakota to serve 17 years and six months for a multi-million dollar credit card fraud scheme involving more than 20 banks in the U.S., according to a Justice Department news release. At the time, it was the largest credit card fraud suffered by US Bank and the Discover Card Bank in their histories.

Years after the 2012 sentencing, authorities discovered Adeyemo, 47, took steps to conceal his prior residency in the US as a legal permanent resident, that he was a licensed attorney in Nigeria and that he was a fugitive with an outstanding warrant in California from 2001 for another fraud scheme. A jury found him guilty of concealing this evidence from authorities to reduce his 2012 sentence. This week, in sentencing Adeyemo to 10 years in prison, District Judge Linda Reade in Iowa said Adeyemo showed a “callous disregard of the laws of the United States.”   [Source: West Fargo Pioneer]

She’s baaack! This time facing theft and resisting arrest charges

A Louisiana woman known for a viral video of her shoplifting several liquor bottles in 2017 is back in jail. Sekonie Jones, 38, Of Shreveport is charged with two counts of theft and a charge of resisting an officer. Her bond is set at $6,000.

In August 2017, Jones was caught on video stealing multiple bottles from a Shreveport liquor store. Shreveport-Caddo CrimeStoppers shared the video on its YouTube in hopes someone would identify her. However, due to Jones’ brazenness, the video was shared across social media and amassed a viewing total of nearly 200,000 times on YouTube. In post on her personal Facebook, she appeared to admit to the 2017 crime saying “I hustle that’s what I do.”   [Source: KLSA News12]

Can AI catch crooks before they steal?

Retail stores guard against theft by installing surveillance cameras, training staff to spot a shoplifter, and employing loss prevention professionals in stores. Japanese startup Vaak believes it can instead predict shoplifting before it happens using artificial intelligence. As Bloomberg reports, Vaak’s software works by tapping into the live security camera feeds a retail store has installed. It then monitors customers looking specifically at their body language. If there are signs that someone is overly nervous, looking around a lot, fidgeting, or generally restless, the system contacts staff via a smartphone app.

By alerting staff, the potential shoplifter can quickly be approached and treated just like any other customer because they haven’t done anything wrong yet. However, this interaction will likely stop the shoplifting from happening as the individual will lose their nerve and think better of it. Typically, it falls to staff or security guards to spot shoplifting happening and react to it.

The cameras simply record the act which forms evidence for later use in a prosecution. By combining the detection with the camera feeds, Vaak is not only promising a higher rate of detection, but also the prospect of fewer crimes being committed because the thief is going to be stopped more often before they’ve broken the law.

With shoplifting costing the retail industry in the region of $34 billion a year in lost sales, retailers will be very keen to adopt new technology that prevents it happening. For now, Vaak is testing its software in 16 stores across Tokyo. If successful, we should expect a global roll out, although it’s unlikely many retailers will want you to know they are using it in their stores.   [Source: PC Mag]

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