Breaking News in the Industry: November 7, 2018

Fraudulent returns gets suspect felony charges

A Rochester man’s attempt to save big money at a Minnesota Menards landed him in custody on felony theft charges. Garang Kaul Maniang Deng, 22, was referred for felony theft, obstructing the legal process, fleeing police on foot and giving a false name, after he reportedly attempted to return $1,400 of un-purchased merchandise and led Winona police on a chase.

According to the report, Deng entered Menards shortly before 12:45 p.m. Friday, filled a cart with merchandise and attempted to return the items at customer service. It didn’t fool store employees, who confronted him about the attempted theft and contacted police. According to police, Deng fled through a nearby strip mall and landscaping business before he attempted to lose the the officers by swimming through a flooded ditch. Deng, who was soaking wet, was apprehended a short time later.   [Source: Winona Daily News]

Million dollar casino credit card fraud gets her 2 years in jail

An Alpharetta, Georgia, woman was sentenced Monday to two years in prison after pleading guilty to scamming casinos and credit card companies across the country out of $1.1 million, the California-based Daily Democrat reported. Vivian Wang, 55, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in February, previously reported. Her case was the product of a joint investigation by the FBI and California’s Bureau of Gambling Control.

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Between 2008 and 2014, Wang and a co-defendant, Frank Luo, 49, of Las Vegas, participated in a scheme to defraud casinos and credit card companies, the US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of California said. They used the names and social security numbers of migrant workers to apply for casino credit, which is also called a “marker,” and to open credit card accounts, the US Attorney’s Office said. Casino credit is a cash advance provided by a casino to a patron, and it is often secured by a check from the person’s bank account.

Wang and Luo started by paying off several of these “markers” on time to give the illusion of “credit worthiness” to both the casinos and credit card companies, the US Attorney’s Office said. However, Wang and Luo then recruited “clients” to trick the casinos and credit card companies to part with even more money under fraudulent pretenses, authorities said. Luo pleaded guilty in August 2017 and was sentenced to three years in prison.   [Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution]

Survey says EMV chips fail to halt credit card fraud

A new report from the research firm Gemini Advisory has found that, of more than 60 million cases of credit card theft in the last 12 months, a whopping 93% of the stolen cards had the new chip technology. This represents a major setback for the technology, known as the EMV standard, which is named after the companies (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) that created it.

“45.8 million…records [were] likely compromised through card-sniffing and point-of-sale (POS) breaches of businesses such as Saks, Lord & Taylor, Jason’s Deli, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, Forever 21, and Whole Foods. To break it down even further, 90% or 41.6 million of those records were EMV chip-enabled,” states the report.

In theory, EMV should reduce fraud because every card transaction requires an encrypted connection between the chip card and the merchant’s point-of-sale terminal. EMV is meant to replace conventional swipe transactions that rely on magnetic strips, which contain data that is relatively easy for criminals to intercept and then copy on to a new card.

But while the EMV standard is supposed to ensure the card data cannot be captured, many merchants are failing to properly configure their systems, according to a Gemini Advisory executive who spoke with Fortune. The upshot is that criminals have been able to insert themselves into the transaction data steam, either by hacking into merchant networks or installing skimmer devices in order to capture card information.   [Source: Fortune]

Teens ignore unconscious clerk while stealing; get 30-day detention

One of the two teens who was caught on video stealing from an Auburn convenience store after the clerk collapsed from a heart attack has been sentenced to 30 days in detention, officials said. The 17-year-old was sentenced Friday in King County Juvenile Court after he pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary and first-degree theft. In addition to detention, the teen was sentenced to 12 months of supervision and 48 hours of community restitution. A 13-year-old who was also seen in video of the incident is scheduled to have a plea hearing on Nov. 15.

After an argument, one of the teens gave the clerk $1 at which point the clerk became upset and went up to the teens to talk to them, police said. After talking with the boys, the clerk turned around and then collapsed to the floor from a heart attack. But instead of calling for help, the teen took the $1 bill back then the pair left the store… but then they returned to steal cigarettes and take money from the cash register, police said, all the while ignoring the unconscious clerk on the ground.

Three minutes passed until another customer arrived and discovered the clerk on the floor. That customer asked others to call 911 while he began CPR on the unconscious clerk. The whole incident was captured on the store’s security video camera. The clerk was taken to an Auburn hospital where he spent two weeks in recovery before returning home to his wife and three young children.   [Source: KOMO News]

Four charged with shoplifting; LP praised

Four people were charged last week with shoplifting from a Massachusetts Kohl’s on Technology Center Drive in Stoughton. Police said the department store’s loss prevention team is strong when it comes to catching shoplifters. “Their loss prevention there is phenomenal,” Lt. John Bonney told The Brockton Enterprise.

Police said one of the arrest was from a boyfriend and girlfriend on Friday, who stole about $100 worth of merchandise from Kohl’s. The couple stole almost another $300 worth of items from a nearby Target, the day before, police said. Michael Citrone, 35, of Stoughton and Carol Wirtz, 29, of Boston were charged with multiple counts of larceny. Citrone was also charged with possession of a class E substance (pills). Police said they also found methamphetamine on Wirtz.

Two others were also arrested Thursday after police said they stole over $200 worth of merchandise from Kohl’s. Jessica O’Donnell, 32 of Taunton and Ashely Quinlan, 30, of Brockton were each charged with one count of shoplifting.  [Source: Stoughton Patch]

Christmas sales predicted to surpass $1 trillion for the first time this year

Christmas holiday retail sales in the U.S. are expected to climb above the $1 trillion mark for the first time this year, on the back of low unemployment, solid income growth and higher consumer confidence, according to a study released Tuesday. Total retail sales in the U.S. will hit $1.002 trillion during the holiday period, which it defines as spanning November 1 and December 31 this year, an increase of almost 6 percent from the previous year, marking the “strongest growth since 2011,” data from market research firm eMarketer showed.

The report comes amid concerns over the future of brick-and-mortar retailers, with the likes of Sears and Toys ‘R’ Us facing bankruptcy — although the latter’s lenders recently cancelled a bankruptcy auction and plans to revive the brand. Not to mention the fact that several retailers are closing hundreds of stores across the country as the threat of increased competition from e-commerce firms like Amazon and eBay continues to put pressure on the industry. On Monday, home improvement chain Lowe’s said it would shutter 51 under-performing stores across the US and Canada.

The research said the sector would see a 4.4 percent gain year-on-year in in-store sales, rising to $878.38 billion, and that brick-and-mortar would be a “bright spot” for the retail industry as a whole for the 2018 Christmas holiday period. “While e-commerce will continue to see strong double-digit gains, brick-and-mortar retail should be a particular bright spot this holiday season,” Andrew Lipsman, principal analyst at eMarketer, said in a statement Tuesday.   [Source: CNBC News]

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