Breaking News in the Industry: October 24, 2018

Fake Rolexes, makeup, pills among counterfeit items seized

Fake Rolexes, counterfeit makeup and even bogus Viagra pills are among more than $1 million in items intercepted by federal and state law enforcement officers as part of a major anti-counterfeiting operation taking place across the New Orleans area. The effort will continue through the busy holiday shopping season.

Officers with several agencies, including the US Food and Drug Administration and US Customs and Border Protection (CBP), gathered Monday (October 22) at the US Customs House in downtown New Orleans to show a variety of counterfeit items that had already been seized in raids across the region over the past month. The items included fake Michael Kors Rolex watches and counterfeit purses seized on the North Shore and valued at $50,000 total, according to officials. Several samples of counterfeit perfume were seized from the Destrehan area. Other counterfeit goods seized locally included toys, Viagra pills, makeup kits, handbags and contact lenses.

Officials with CBP’s New Orleans office said they have seized more than $1 million in counterfeit and potentially dangerous products over the last 30 days. This includes more than 2,000 Hello Kitty and Minions plush toys, 100 counterfeit Kylie Jenner and Urban Decay makeup sets, and more than 700 apple chargers and ear pods. Officials said a good share of the items were shipped to New Orleans from overseas, though they declined to specify where the counterfeit items were made.

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Jere Miles, special agent in charge with Homeland Security Investigations, warned counterfeit makeup, medication and contact lenses can be especially dangerous. These items are not vetted by the Food and Drug Administration and can pose a health threat, he said. For example, counterfeit makeup has tested positive for lead and other heavy metals, he said.

With Halloween around the corner, Miles said consumers should use caution when buying makeup or contact lenses from unlisted or unlicensed retailers. The products may be cheaper, but they can also do serious harm. The US Food and Drug Administration warns that decorative or costume contact lenses can cause issues such as scratches on the cornea, corneal infection, or pink eye. The federal anti-counterfeiting operation in New Orleans will continue through the holiday season. Homeland Security Investigations officials said they will update the public on their progress again in November.   [Source: NOLA.com]

Federal jury convicts 2 of multi-state, armed robberies

A federal jury in Indianapolis has convicted two men of a string of Indiana and Ohio cell phone robberies. Kashawn Morrow, 28, and Christopher Davis, 24, were found guilty on three counts of robbery, three counts of using a firearm in relation to a crime, two counts of conspiracy and transporting a firearm across state line to commit a felony, according to a news release from US Attorney Josh J. Minkler. U.S. District Judge Richard L. Young presided over the trial. David McGhee and Darrin Bell also were charged after the quartet was apprehended March 30, 2017.

The Wayne County Sheriff’s office and Richmond Police Department assisted with a multi-agency effort to block traffic, follow and stop the two vehicles in which the four were traveling as it returned to Indianapolis from a robbery in Ohio. Indiana State Police troopers stopped the vehicles about 9 p.m. at the 121 mile marker of westbound Interstate 70 in Henry County. Troopers then transported the four to Indianapolis. The FBI, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and other sheriff’s agencies also participated in the apprehension. When the suspects were stopped, a rifle, 84 cell phones and accessories were found in the men’s possession.

“This group used violence to terrorize retail store employees around the Midwest,” Minkler said in the release. “Putting the safety of shoppers, employees and law enforcement in jeopardy will never be tolerated. They will now be held accountable for their actions.” During February and March 2017, Morrow and Davis robbed cell phone stores on East Thompson Road, South East Street and Pendleton Way in Indianapolis and another in Troy, Ohio. They used guns and threatened the lives of their victims during the robberies. The release said Morrow and Davis both now face sentences of 55 years to life in prison. No sentencing date has yet been set.   [Source: Pal Item]

The countdown to Black Friday has begun; Are retailers and consumers ready?

It’s hard to believe we are just a month away from the “unofficial” kick off of the holiday shopping season—Black Friday. So before the shopping frenzy begins, we thought this would be an opportune time to outline some best practices that both retailers and consumers should follow in order to protect consumer data.

Customers are expecting more and more when it comes to their shopping experience, and this holiday season will push the envelope as retailers are making brick-and-mortar stores more digital and connected while offering online shoppers an in-store experience. While these interconnected experiences might seem great at the outset, retailers are opening themselves up to new security risks, especially as we head beyond the holiday season and into 2019. As convenience technologies evolve, look for more risks to consumers and retailers.

In our 2018 Data Threat Report-Retail Edition, we found 50% of respondents reported a data breach this past year, so it goes without saying that the holiday shopping season is a prime time for cyber criminals to target both retailers and consumers alike. Additionally, the report revealed that the top reason identified by our U.S. retail respondents for not deploying data security was “lack of perceived need” (52%). Protecting sensitive data has to be a priority or data breaches in the retail sector will continue.

While we wait with bated breath to see how the 2018 holiday shopping season shakes out, here’s some reminders that consumers and retailers should follow this year:

  • Protecting consumer payment data at all costs. With cybercriminals lurking around every corner, retailers can’t afford to be distracted by a busy holiday season and let their guard down. The highest level of security procedures must be in place whether data is at rest or in use. Retailers need to pay close attention to anyone and anything that might connect to the network for nefarious reasons. Remember, protecting customer data, including credit card/payment information is first and foremost and can be vulnerable this time of year.
  • Putting best practices in place at the start. Before the onslaught of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday shoppers, retailers need to thoroughly review their security policies and procedures so the appropriate safeguards are in place. Waiting until an online website crashes or a data breach occurs is too late. To do this, some critical questions to ask are:
    • How will we manage a surge in traffic?
    • Is there the right level of security throughout the supply chain ecosystem?
    • What is the procedure if we experience a data breach?
  • Don’t let connected devices be your downfall. People want a convenient shopping experience but that comes with potential security concerns. In fact, the number of connected devices in a store is only increasing.

When a customer enters a store and connects to the conveniently free WiFi, their device can be taken over by hackers and can potentially launch a host of threats including denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. As a result, security must be up to date so the tens of hundreds of these connected devices cannot wreak havoc on a retailer in exchange for a better customer experience.    [Source: Security Boulevard]

Shoplifting suspect pulls gun on LP associate

A 31-year-old man was arrested Sunday night on suspicion of first-degree robbery after he allegedly stole items from The Home Depot in Tumwater. After he was detained by a store loss prevention associate for shoplifting, the man allegedly pulled out a gun, court records show. However, the gun later turned out to be a pellet gun.

According to court records, Tumwater, Washington, police were dispatched to the store about 7:20 p.m. Sunday after a report that a man had pulled a gun on a loss-prevention associate after that associate had tried to detain him for suspected shoplifting. “When (the loss prevention associate) confronted the suspect about the stolen items, the suspect produced a handgun and told him to ‘back the f— up,’” the court records read. The suspect fled the scene, but was later stopped by police and taken into custody. The stolen items and the pellet gun were later found behind a nearby Walmart. The suspect, according to court records, admitted to stealing but denied pulling out the gun.   [Source: The Olympian]

Employee stole more than $28K from store

Louisville Metro Police have arrested a Kentucky woman authorities say stole several thousand dollars from a Walmart store where she worked. Tiffany Cecil, 39, was arrested on October 19. According to an arrest report, she stole more than $28,000 over a two-month period from the Walmart located at 175 Outer Loop near New Cut Road.  Police say Cecil was seen taking $1,300 from her drawer on October 19, and was stopped by a store manager. That cash was recovered.

According to officials, Cecil admitted to taking another $27,000 from the store over time dating back to August 17. All the thefts were recorded on security video. Cecil is charged with theft. Jail officials tell WDRB Cecil was released from Louisville Metro Corrections on October 20 by court order. [Source: WDRB.com]

American Express and PayPal announce expanded strategic partnership

American Express and PayPal announced an expanded strategic partnership that will improve the digital payments experience for US American Express Card Members paying with PayPal and Venmo. The companies will work closely on a host of solutions for joint customers to include the use of Membership Rewards points for PayPal purchases and an integrated peer-to-peer payment experience. Through this partnership, US American Express Card Members will have the opportunity to:

  • Use Membership Rewards points for purchases at millions of PayPal merchants online
  • Send money via Venmo or PayPal to friends and family directly from the Amex mobile app
  • Easily add American Express Cards to the PayPal wallet directly from the Amex mobile app or website
  • Pay their American Express bill with their PayPal or Venmo balance via the PayPal Instant Transfer feature
  • More clearly identify their specific American Express Cards in the PayPal wallet with Card-specific branding

As part of the agreement, both companies will also explore additional innovative digital products and experiences.   [Source: BusinessWire]

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