Breaking News in the Industry: February 20, 2017

Burger King employee fired for taking 50 cents of food, awarded $46K

A 55-year old fast food worker in Vancouver, who was terminated from her job over less than a dollar, received redemption in court, as a Supreme Court Justice awarded her $46,000 as part of the settlement. Usha Ram, a former Burger King employee with over 25 years of experience at the restaurant, was fired in 2013, apparently for stealing food. She contended however that the termination was wrongful, and battled the franchise owner of the restaurant in court. As she explains it, at the end of her shift she had asked her manager if she could take home a fish sandwich. The franchise owner, Janif Mohammed, contends that while she was allowed to take home the sandwich, she was “not authorized to take the medium fries and drink”.

Justice Lisa Warren ruled that, once employee discounts had been applied, the amount taken by Ram was less than a dollar. Mohammed claimed he instituted a zero-tolerance policy at the location in regards to employee theft, regardless of the value taken. Warren however stated that Ram did not have a history of stealing or even being disciplined during her time at Burger King. More importantly, she did not “try to conceal the food”, which led to Warren’s decision. $21,000 of the amount awarded to Ram was for a year’s salary at minimum wage. The remaining $25,000 was granted for the “unreasonable, unfair and unduly insensitive manner of her firing”.  [For more: Huffington Post]

How two anonymous tips dismantled a credit fraud ring

What started with a video and email, sent as anonymous tips to police, ended with three arrests and the dismantling of a credit fraud and identity theft ring in Massachusetts, The Enterprise reported. Sean Akil Trim, 32, his sister Sherrise Trim, also 32, and their cousin Tishon Singh, 26, were all arrested Thursday afternoon on a variety of credit card fraud and identity theft charges.

The investigation began on February 10, when Stoughton Police Chief Donna McNamara received an anonymous email regarding a “credit card fraud ring” according to court documents. Then, around that same day, the Stoughton Police Department Facebook page received a tip in the form of a 46-second video. It showed a room inside the home with hundreds of credit cards and the embosser and skimming devices. “Just trying to give you guys a heads up of what’s going on in your lovely community,” the tip stated, according to a police report filed in court.

Detectives began performing surveillance on Wednesday with a Secret Service special agent. That day, they saw Sean Trim exit the apartment and get into a Jeep Cherokee carrying two black trash bags. Police saw first saw him drive behind the Stop & Shop on Washington Street in town, where they later determined he threw the trash bags in a dumpster. He then went into the store and purchased two $175 Nike gift cards and two Money Gram transfers for $449. Detectives recovered the trash bags as evidence and found 24 assorted gift card wrappers and packaging, a Target debit card and several receipts for gift card purchases. He was then followed to a Stop & Shop in Hyde Park, where he attempted to purchase another $150 Nike gift card, but his credit card was declined.

Stoughton police Detective Erik Feist applied for a search warrant of the home at the conclusion of the day’s surveillance. Once it was issued, police watched the home Wednesday night, but didn’t see anyone return. Then, on Thursday, after performing a couple more hours of surveillance, police decided to execute the warrant. Inside the home, police seized a credit card embosser, credit card encoder, computer, several hundred credit cards and at least $7,203.   Inside a car that was towed back to the station, police found 19 pre-paid debit cards marked at $150, two for $100 and another one for $200.

The three were arraigned Friday morning in Stoughton District Court.  Sean Trim was held on $100,000 bail in the new case, but his bail was revoked on an open larceny case out of Wrentham District Court. Sherrise Trim and Singh were held on $35,000 bail. All three are due back in court on March 14 for pre-trial hearings.  [For more: WCVB TV]

Driving slow leads to drug, credit card fraud charges

A New York City man stopped Thursday morning for driving too slow was charged with having more than 100 fake credit cards and devices to make even more in his car, according to court records.
Kerron D. Phillip, 24, smoked crack cocaine and marijuana prior to the traffic stop state police said. According to a criminal complaint, a trooper was monitoring traffic when he spotted Phillip’s car going 43 mph in a 55 zone. The trooper began following and Phillip sped up and cut off a tractor-trailer, nearly causing a crash. The trooper also saw that Phillips’ rear windshield was cracked and the bumper was not properly secured.
The trooper pulled Phillip over and during the stop smelled marijuana in Phillip’s car. Phillip admitted he had marijuana in the car and submitted to field sobriety tests, which he failed.

Another trooper arrived and helped search the vehicle, finding five grams of marijuana, an iPhone box containing 75 credit and gift cards, a credit card reader and writer and a laptop in the car. The troopers found 12 more credit cards and a bag of crack cocaine in Phillip’s underwear.  He told police he smoked crack earlier in the day. A more thorough search of the car led to more than 100 more credit cards, police said. Police said some of the cards appeared to have been altered using the card writer. Phillip was charged with 12 counts of possessing a counterfeit or altered access device, and one count each of drunken driving, possession of an instrument of crime, access device fraud, possession of marijuana, possession of crack cocaine and possession of drug paraphernalia. He was also charged with four traffic violations. He was arraigned by District Judge Michael Pochron and sent to Lehigh County Jail under $40,000 bail.  [For more: The Morning Call]

Employee helps men steal $4,000 in gift cards from The Home Depot

Gwinnett County police are looking for four men who stole $4,000 worth of gift cards from a Norcross Home Depot with the help of an employee last month. Magued Deme called police to the Home Depot according to a police report. He reportedly told officers a group of black men came into the store and began walking around. He said one man asked him where the store kept its gift cards and Deme pointed them in the right direction. Deme said the men came back with at least 10 gift cards. They reportedly threatened to shoot him if he didn’t scan the cards. “Mr. Deme stated one of the suspects lifted his jacket and showed him a black handgun that was tucked in his waistband,” according to the police report.
Once they had the activated gift cards, another witness reportedly saw them leave in a newer model gold Camry.

Originally, Deme told police he only scanned the cards because he was surrounded by strange men, threatened by a gun and afraid for his life.  But officers now say that story wasn’t true. Deme later admitted that he’d actually helped the men, who were friends of his, steal the cards. He was arrested and charged with falsely reporting a crime and theft.  Since then, officers have noticed that the stolen gift cards were used at several Publix stores in DeKalb County. They have yet to find the men who stole them. Surveillance video from that day shows that the four suspects are all black men between 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-11. One of them wore a camouflage jacket and another wore a Ramones jacket.
Anybody with information on this case should call GCPD detectives at 770-513-5300. Tipsters can remain anonymous by contacting Crime Stoppers at 404-577-8477 or by texting tips to 274637. Crime Stoppers tipsters could receive up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in this case  [For more: Gwinnett Daily Post]

Another sporting goods retailer calling it quits… It’s closing time for MC Sports.

The chain, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Feb. 14, is closing all 66 of its stores across the Midwest. A joint venture between Tiger Capital Group and Great American Group is conducting the going-out-of-business sales, which are now underway.  “Like many retailers in the sporting goods industry, the company has faced increased competition, the blurring of distribution channels by key athletic and outdoor brands, increasing direct-to-consumer sales by key vendors, and the market disruption and growth of e-commerce,” MC Sports said in a statement.

Founded in 1946 in Grand Rapids, Michigan, MC Sports was one of the few remaining privately held sporting goods chains in the country. It joins a growing list of sporting goods retailers that have filed for Chapter 11 in the past 12 months, including Sports Authority, Sport Chalet, Golfsmith and, most recently, Eastern Mountain Sports.  “We are witnessing a unique era of consolidation in sporting goods retailing due in part to the rapid growth of e-commerce,” said Michael McGrail, COO of Tiger Group, which provides asset valuation, advisory and disposition services to retail, wholesale, and industrial clients. “But stabilization is an inevitability; chain-wide store-closure events such as this won’t continue forever in sporting goods.”  MC Sports has more than $14 million in trade debt, and almost $475,000 in debt for media and marketing services, court filings show, according to the Detroit Free Press. The company currently operates 24 stores in Michigan; 11 in Ohio; seven in Indiana; eight in Illinois; seven in Wisconsin; five in Missouri, and four in Iowa.  [For more: Chain Store Age]

Border-adjustment tax could wipe out retail earnings by 50% or more, analyst says

The border-adjustment tax issue could affect retail companies’ earnings per share by 50 percent or more, retail expert Oliver Chen told CNBC on Friday.  “You also have to consider how these [retail] companies acquire goods,” Chen, a Cowen senior analyst, said during an interview on CNBC’s “Power Lunch.” “I don’t think the U.S. consumer is willing to take on these price increases.”

The Trump administration’s so-called border-adjustment tax would tax all imports coming into the U.S., but it would exclude exports. The hope is this plan would allow Washington to make corporate tax cuts across the board, while still generating enough tax revenue to reduce the new budget deficits that would be created. But retail companies could take a hit, in turn. Opponents of the tax proposal say it isn’t clear if it would result in a sharp jump in the dollar, which would be crucial to offset the inflationary impact of taxes on foreign goods.

Using Amazon as an example of a disruptor in the retail space, Chen explained how big-box stores like Walmart have already been threatened by a “changing shopping pattern,” and by consumers who don’t physically want to go to stores anymore. “Walmart has been investing billions to lowers its prices,” just to get those shoppers in their doors, Chen said. Now, the proposed border-adjustment tax could bring a whole host of other issues to the table. “Earnings per share could be completely wiped out,” Chen warned.  [For more: CNBC]

The Internet revolutionizing retail – infographic

The Internet has literally revolutionized our daily lives not just from a personal sense but in the home, in work, in school.. almost everything. However there’s no doubting the fact that the Internet has shaken up the retail industry from what was a very traditional industry previously.
Today, you can be sitting in your home in New York City and you can have the option to walk out onto the streets and search for that new sofa in the local furniture store. Or you can simply switch on your computer, or even your phone, start browsing, and you can have a sofa ordered and paid for from a supplier thousands of miles away… and all from the comfort of your home.

This has presented a huge challenge for brick and mortar retailers. Many have decided to enter the online sphere but that’s not as easy as it sounds; you need to consider issues like warehousing and logistics not to mention returns and customer service. However, the Internet has revolutionized offline stores too and it presents an opportunity to those retailers who are willing to accept it. They can choose to ignore this technology but they do so at their peril as the days of the savvy consumer are well and truly upon us! Retailers need to embrace and learn how technology can help to grow their business even if they choose not to go the online route; it’s just about knowing how to instigate this change and the key is research, training and understanding how it can help your business.

Almost 50% of small businesses do not have a website and research shows that businesses with an online presence grow 40% faster than those without one. Google is the new Yellow Pages. This infographic from Store-Traffic highlights some interesting statistics about retailers and the Internet; it pinpoints how retailers can make an online presence be that using a website or using social media and it also touches on the interesting area of IoT and retail.  [For more: ValueWalk]



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