Breaking News in the Industry: October 16, 2018

WATCH: Suspect goes on robbery rampage at cellphone store

Broward police released surveillance video which captured a burglar’s one-minute rampage as he raided a cellphone store in Weston, Florida. The thief was able to get away with approximately $4000 worth of electronics. Anyone having information about this incident should contact the Broward County Sheriff’s office.   [Source: NBC4 News]

Three charged with stealing thousands of dollars worth of purses

Three people are facing charges in connection with the armed robbery at a Christian Dior store on Rush Street in downtown Chicago, police said in a statement Sunday. According to earlier reports, four women walked into the store around 1:30 p.m. last Monday and threatened the clerk with mace before making off with 10 purses worth thousands of dollars.

The four then ran out the store and jumped into a dark colored sedan with two men inside. Police said they identified three suspects later in the week after detectives discovered “stolen items being sold online,” and then arrested them last Thursday afternoon. Now Lawrence Hall, 20, and Tishawn Holliday, 20, are facing charges of felony theft, while Tia Jennings, 19, has been charged with felony Armed Robbery. All three have already appeared in Bond Court.   [Source: WGN9 News]

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Stores already have their Christmas decorations out, and it reveals a strategy that is killing Black Friday as we know it

is still early October, but if you’ve visited a shopping center recently, it is clear retailers are convinced it is time to start celebrating the holidays. Christmas trees are starting to pop up. Ornaments are for sales. A couple of strands of tinsel may even be hanging from the ceilings. A quick perusal of social media reveals that, even as the weather remains hotter than ever, stores are dedicated to kicking off the holiday shopping season in early October.

Department stores like Belk, Macy’s, and Kohl’s have already decked the halls, with many locations pulling out holiday decorations around October 1. Holiday decorations started popping up in warehouse clubs like Sam’s Club and Costco in late September. Walmart and Target are also selling some holiday supplies, though Target seems to be showing some restraint. In 2017, Target announced it would avoid holiday displays and signs near the entrances of stores until after Thanksgiving.

“Christmas creep” isn’t a new phenomenon. People have been complaining about the holiday shopping season kicking off earlier and earlier since the 1980s. “It’s like a mini-arms race,” Wharton marketing professor Stephen Hoch said in 2006. “The competition among retailers means nobody wants to be second. That moves the shopping season up a little bit more each and every year.” The actual benefits of moving the holiday shopping season earlier remains unclear.

In many ways, Christmas creep was a taste of things to come in the retail industry, as competitors’ attempts to undercut each other has led to the downfall of one of their most powerful weapons: Black Friday. The number of people visiting stores on Black Friday declined 4.5% in 2017, according to RetailNext.

Today, Black Friday is forced to share the thunder (and sales) with Thanksgiving Day, Cyber Monday, and the two weekend days in between. According to Marshal Cohen, the head retail analyst at NPD Group, Black Friday has transformed into Black November,with sales continuing through the month. Plus, the importance of Black Friday is diminished due to the plethora of deals all year round. Retailers have found themselves forced to dilute Black Friday by opening stores earlier on Thanksgiving Day, kicking off more aggressive online sales, and offering deals year-round in an effort to stay competitive. In many ways, Christmas creep was just the first sign of the breakdown of a strict holiday shopping season, lasting from the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.   [Source: Business Insider]

Employee steals $9,000 worth of cellphones

A Walmart employee told Middletown police that he stole about $9,000 in cellphones because he was “in need of funds,” according to a police report. Austin Fink, 25, of Middletown, Ohio, was charged with theft, a fourth-degree felony, and transported to the Middletown City Jail. His preliminary hearing is set for Monday in Middletown Municipal Court.

Police were called to Walmart on Sunday evening by a loss prevention associate who said Fink admitted to stealing cell phones over the past few months, the report read.Loss prevention told police that empty phone boxes were found in the store. After viewing video surveillance, it was determined Fink allegedly stole the items.zz Fink told a Walmart LP associate he stole nine items, totaling $8,899. The items included six iPhones, two Samsungs, a Galaxy 8, and a Samsung Note 8.   [Source: Journal-News]

Romanian national accused of leading international fraud operation behind $4M theft

A Romanian national was returned to the United States Friday to face federal charges that accuse him of being the leader of an international cyber fraud ring that used malware to steal in excess of $4 million after taking people’s passwords, personal identifying information, and bank account information. Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Justin E. Herdman of the Northern District of Ohio, Peter Elliot of the U.S. Marshals Service, Stephen D. Anthony of the FBI and Chief Kevin Bielozer of the Westlake Police Department made the announcement.

Romeo Vasile Chita, 38, was charged in a four-count indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Ohio. The charges include racketeering, wire fraud conspiracy, conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to traffic in counterfeit services. Eight other defendants were named in the indictment unsealed today.  Two defendants—Daniel Mihai Radu, 39; and Manuel Tudor, 37, —have already been extradited from Romania and are awaiting trial in Cleveland. The other five defendants remain at large.

“Romeo Vasile Chita allegedly led a multinational criminal enterprise that stole sensitive personal data through deceptive phishing emails and organized fraudulent online auctions, causing millions of dollars in losses to innocent victims,” said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  “The Criminal Division will continue to work with our law enforcement partners, both domestic and international, to aggressively disrupt and dismantle international cyber criminal organizations that victimize our citizens and businesses.”

“This defendant led an international operation that used fraudulent emails and the internet to scam hard-working people out of their savings,” said U.S. Attorney Herdman.  “It is gratifying that this defendant will be forced to answer the charges filed against him.”   [Source: Dark Reading] 

Anti-counterfeiting group flags 2 millionth fake golf product

The Philadelphia-based U.S. Golf Manufacturers Anti-Counterfeiting Working Group scored a key milestone this month in its ongoing battle against fake equipment with the seizure of its 2 millionth counterfeit product since the group was formed more than a decade ago. The seizure was made as part of two raids conducted in collaboration with local law enforcement authorities in Dongguan, a major industrial center in the Guangdong province of China.

“The seizure of the 2 millionth piece of counterfeit golf equipment is a validation of our efforts as a group and an inspiration for us to keep fighting to protect the consumers, the brands and the game that is so important to all of us,” said Stephen Gingrich, vice president of global legal enforcement at the Cleveland Golf Co. “We are proud of what we’ve accomplished, but we know there’s still work to do. This is a message to counterfeiters everywhere that we are more committed than ever to putting an end to the production and sale of these fake products.”

Cleveland Golf is one of a group of golf companies — along with Acushnet Co., whose brands are Titleist, FootJoy and Scotty Cameron; Callaway-Odyssey; Srixon; PING; PXG; and TayorMade — that since 2004 have worked together to combat counterfeiting.

The Golf Group has gone to court to shut down more than 1,500 websites selling counterfeit products and accessories. The raids carried out by local government law enforcement authorities in Dongguan seized more than 36,000 counterfeit golf products, including grips, club heads and shafts. The Golf Group’s collaboration with worldwide government enforcement authorities has now led to the seizure of more than 2 million pieces of counterfeited gear, including clubs, club heads, shafts, grips, balls, bags, gloves, and apparel.   [Source: Business Journal]

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