Identity fraudster faces million dollar fine
A Carmichael, California, man was charged with a series of identity fraud-related offenses along with felony firearm possession after collecting stolen mail and personal identification information to make illegal purchases.Manuel Campos Rodriguez, 41, was charged with 10 counts in all, including bank fraud, aggravated identity theft, possession of credit and debit card-making equipment, possession of stolen mail, and unlawfully possessing 15 or more credit or debit cards, according to a news release issued by the US Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.
Court documents allege that Rodriguez stole mail and collected credit and debit cards, account numbers, social security numbers, and driver’s license numbers, which he used to make purchases at stores such as Home Depot and Macy’s. Rodriguez faces up to 30 years in prison and a $1 million fine. He is being held without bail at the Sacramento County jail. [Source: The Sacramento Bee]
Feds indict blowtorch burglars
Two men accused of using blow torches to break into Target stores across New England will be arraigned on federal charges. Investigators say the pair stole nearly $200,000 worth of iPads and iPhones in just two months. An indictment filed in US District Court in Worcester accuses Elijah Aiken and a second unnamed suspect of stealing electronics from Target stores. Investigators say the suspects used a portable blowtorch to cut through the metal doors and got inside the stores including one in Easton, Massachusetts.
The first theft happened in Pennsylvania in December 2014, where the pair took 15 iPads. Then over the course of two months, police say the same two men hit stores from Connecticut to New Hampshire.Investigators say they always took iPads and iPhones, and they left behind a hole in the metal doors.
The biggest losses were in Massachusetts. About $154,000 worth of merchandise was stolen from the stores in Westborough and Easton. investigators say the pair would sell the goods to a buyer “in and around” New York City. Aiken was arrested at the scene of the last burglary in Connecticut. He was hiding in the snow. He was sentenced to two years in prison for that crime, but is now facing federal charges of transporting stolen goods over state lines. [Source: Boston25 News]
NRF says ORC at all-time high
Organized retail crime is continuing to grow, with nearly three-quarters of retailers surveyed reporting an increase in the past year, according to the 14th annual ORC study released today by the National Retail Federation (NRF). “Retailers continue to deal with increasing challenges and complications surrounding organized retail crime,” NRF Vice President of Loss Prevention Bob Moraca said. “These criminals find new ways to expand their networks and manipulate the retail supply chain every day. The retail industry is fighting this battle by upgrading technology, improving relationships with local law enforcement and taking steps such as tightening return policies, but it is a never-ending battle.”
The report found that 92 percent of companies surveyed had been a victim of ORC in the past year and that 71 percent said ORC incidents were increasing. Losses averaged $777,877 per $1 billion in sales, up 7 percent from last year’s previous record of $726,351. Retailers attributed the increase to the easy online sale of stolen goods, gift card fraud, shortage of staff in stores and demand for certain brand name items or specific products. In addition, a number of states have increased the threshold for a theft to be considered a felony, meaning criminals can steal a larger quantity of goods while keeping the crime a misdemeanor and avoiding the risk of higher penalties that come with the commission of a felony.
ORC typically targets items that can be easily stolen, and quickly resold, and top items range from low-cost products like laundry detergent, razors, deodorant, infant formula and blue jeans to high-end goods like designer clothing and handbags, expensive liquor and cellphones. Stolen goods are recovered anywhere from flea markets and pawnshops to online, with gift cards often ending up on online gift card exchanges. While online fencing has increased over the years, retailers say 60 percent of recovered merchandise, on average, is found at physical locations. While at least 34 states have ORC laws, 73 percent of retailers surveyed support the creation of a federal ORC law, noting that ORC gangs often operate across state lines. [Source: BusinessWire]
Task force goes after credit card skimmers
(The following article was written by Brevard Sheriff Wayne Ivey) 42 law enforcement officers took a very proactive approach to protecting our citizens from credit card fraud and identity theft in preparation for the Holiday Season. As part of the initiative, Agents from the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Task Force, United States Secret Service, Department of Agriculture, and FDLE physically examined 251 Gas Stations throughout Brevard County in search of illegal credit card skimmers that had been covertly installed in gas pumps.
Assisted by Detectives from Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, Cocoa, West Melbourne, Melbourne, Palm Bay, Titusville and the Rockledge Police Departments the operation led to the seizure of 18 skimmers that had been installed inside the pumps to target unsuspecting citizens.
Electronic Skimmers capture the credit card data when the credit card is used to purchase fuel, using the “pay at the pump” features offered by most Gas Stations today. The device is covertly installed inside the pump by criminals who illegally gain access to the inside of the fuel pump and later return to collect the in-line slimmer and stolen data. [Source: Space Coast Daily]
Fleeing shoplifter injures police officer
An officer was injured by a shoplifting suspect who was attempting to escape arrest in a New Orleans East shopping center Sunday afternoon, according to New Orleans police. Ishionte Jachson, 23, was handcuffed after being accused of shoplifting in the 9600 block of Chef Menteur Highway, NOPD said, but managed to get loose.
As an officer attempted to stop Jachson from escaping the area, she was knocked to the ground, according to NOPD spokesman Juan Barnes. The injured officer was brought to the hospital with a head injury, Barnes said. Jachson was apprehended by another officer. Her booking photo was not immediately available. Barnes said additional charges are pending. [Source: Fox8 News]
Which retailer calls PD 9 times a day and who pays?
Police come to arrest the person accused of stealing a $2 ChapStick and investigate the theft of $10 sunglasses. They’re asked to settle domestic spats, break up parking lot disputes and remove disorderly drunks. These calls to police, thousands of which are made each year, chew up hours of the Columbia, South Carolina, Police Department’s time. And they all start at Walmart.
Four Walmart locations rely on Columbia police more than any other establishment in the city, according to The State’s review of CPD crime data from 2014 to present. The big-box retailer generated far more calls to police compared to much larger shopping centers such as Columbiana Centre, which is home to more than 100 stores, and other comparable retailers like Target.
Last year alone, Columbia police responded to a Walmart, on average, nine times a day. That’s one call every three hours. And taxpayers are settling the bill. In the past four years, the vast majority of Walmart calls, about 40 percent, involved suspected theft. Only 8 percent dealt with violence or some kind of disturbance.
Columbia police recognized the problem in July and stopped responding to misdemeanor shoplifting calls if the suspect had already left the store. “Just with that subtle change, we’ve been able to see a difference,” he said. Now, officers are responding to roughly 20 percent fewer incidents of Walmart shoplifting, he said. But some question whether that goes far enough. Walmart representatives recognize the problem, too, saying the company has invested millions in people, programs and technology to police their own stores. [Source: The State]