Breaking News in the Industry: April 24, 2018

Suspect in multi-million dollar credit card fraud ring arrested

A suspect in 48 credit/debit card fraud cases has been arrested in Miami, according to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office. Daniel Santos, 22, was arrested through a coordinated effort with the U.S. Marshalls Service and the Miami Dade County Police. Santos is currently held on no bond. He is charged with organized fraud and possession of stolen credit or debit card, among other related charges. Pasco deputies said Santos also has a history of violence to include battery, throwing a deadly missile, felon in possession of a firearm, lewd and lascivious sexual battery on a victim under 16, assault on law enforcement, fleeing to elude, and multiple drug arrests. Santos’ fraud crimes have been occurring since March 2015. Deputies said Santos obtains credit/debit cards by either buying them from people, stealing them, or obtaining them through “mail box hopping.” His fraudulent activity with other criminal associates has become a multi-million dollar fraud ring.

Pasco sheriff’s Detective Spencer Hubbell received his first case as an Economic Crimes Unit detective in 2016, which was a Santos case. Over the course of the next year, he was assigned numerous other fraud cases. Hubbell was able to link many of the cases together as being committed by Santos. Hubbell arrested Santos several times since receiving the first case, however, Santos was always able to make bond and continue his lifestyle of criminal activity, deputies said. With a total of 48 fraud cases, Hubbell said he was determined to locate Santos and put a stop to his crime spree. During the past week, Hubbell and Pasco sheriff’s Detective Darren Hill put their computer skills to use to locate where Santos was hiding, as Santos knew there were active warrants for his arrest. These detectives watched Internet videos Santos posted and noted specific geographical details regarding the surroundings where Santos was hiding. They were able to successfully identify the exact condominium building seen in the videos. That led to Santos’ arrest.   [Source: Tampa Bay Reporter]

Customer captures Apple store grab and run on smartphone [Viral Video]

Like other large retail outlets, Apple stores have their fair share of thefts, but it’s not often that such incidents are caught on a customer’s smartphone. Police are investigating a robbery that took place at one of the Cupertino company’s stores on the Plaza in Kansas City. One shopper, Margs Dickinson, managed to capture the crime while she was in the store buying an Apple Watch. She later posted the video on her Facebook page. Dickenson told the Kansas City Star that she happened to have her phone out and started recording on SnapChat. The three men are seen grabbing devices from the store as the alarms ring. It appears that one of them is holding an iPad—possibly an expensive 12.9-inch Pro, judging from its size. There’s also a tether dragging along the floor, which could have been what set the alarms off. The men then grab a number of iPhones before fleeing the scene on foot. Back in 2016, Apple started removing the security cords on its iPhones in a small number of stores in the UK and Canada. The untethered handsets have a ‘kill-switch’ that mean when they leave the outlet’s WiFi range, they can’t do anything but ring for Find My iPhone until the battery dies. They are also Activation Locked using iCloud as a deterrent. The thefts were a lot more brazen than a technique used a couple of years ago, which involved criminals wearing blue shirts like those worn by Apple store workers and posing as employees, enabling them to stealing goods from the stores. Anyone who has information on the robbery should call the TIPS Hotline at 816.474.TIPS.  [Source: TechSpot]

Fraudster pleads guilty to $179K credit card fraud scheme

A 22-year-old Queens, New York man pleaded guilty to his role in a $179,000 credit card fraud scheme that spanned the East Coast, federal prosecutors said Thursday. Xia Bin Xu, of Bayside, was part of a fraud ring that stole credit card information from more than 100 cardholders to create fake credit cards, which they used to buy luxury goods from retail shops up and down the East Coast and sell them on the black market from July 2014 to April 2015, court records show. The scheme was headed by two Flushing men – ringleader Mei Bao Lu and his second-in-command Yang-Shi Lin – who skimmed credit card information from dozens of cardholders to create fake credit cards, said U.S. District Attorney John Durham. Lu distributed the fake credit cards to several “buyers” – including Xu – with instructions to purchase gift cards and luxury merchandise. He then sold the goods at a discount to be put on the black market, Durham said. The group used 120 counterfeit credit cards – issued by 18 unknowing financial institutions – to make around $179,000 fraudulent purchases in Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, court records show. In addition to being a buyer, Xu recruited other members to buy for the fraud ring, Durham said.

Cops began investigating the scheme in February 2015 when Connecticut police departments began receiving complaints about unauthorized charges to their credit and debit cards, court records show. The investigation found many of the fraud complaints came from people who’d dined in the same Clinton, Connecticut restaurant earlier that month, authorities said.  Xu was arrested on Sept. 10, 2015 for his role in the credit card fraud scheme and later released on bond. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty in a Connecticut federal court to one count of access device fraud. He will be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison for the crime on July 24. Xu was one of several members of Lu’s group to be convicted on similar credit-card related charges in Maine, New Jersey, New York and West Virginia state and federal courts. Lu and Lin also pleaded guilty to similar charges and were sentenced in early February – Lu to a year and a half in prison and Lin to a year and a day.   [Source: Bayside Patch]

Employee charged with theft from cash registers

Franco Smith, 18, of the 300 block of Englewood Avenue, Bellwood, Illinois, was charged with misdemeanor theft after an internal investigation at Home Depot,  where he worked, found he had stolen as much as $1,750 from various cash registers over a three-month period, police said. He is to appear for a hearing May 15 in Maybrook Court.  [Source: Chicago Tribune]

Woman charged in $7,000 Victoria’s Secret underwear theft

A California woman who allegedly stole more than $7,000 in underwear and other merchandise from Victoria’s Secret was captured by Medford, Oregon, police after she took a cab to her motel room. Harmonie Jewel Taylor, 25, faces two felony theft charges in Jackson County Circuit Court, accusing her of shoplifting more than $7,000 worth of merchandise from Victoria’s Secret at Rogue Valley Mall early Wednesday afternoon, then taking about $3,500 worth of items from Safeway stores later that evening, according to court documents filed in her case. At about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, surveillance video at the lingerie chain allegedly showed Taylor filling several bags with underwear, according to Medford police. Mall security attempted to stop her, but she was able to flee the parking lot on foot, according to police. Taylor, who has a San Francisco address listed in court records, allegedly used a cab service to get from the mall to her motel room, court documents say. After obtaining surveillance photo stills from mall security, the cab company confirmed it gave a ride to a woman fitting Taylor’s description from the mall to the Motel 6 on Biddle Road, and motel staff identified her. At 9:18 p.m. Wednesday,

Medford police witnessed Taylor returning to her motel room via taxi, where she allegedly had in her possession two Victoria’s Secret bags filled with items taken from two Medford Safeway stores. The stolen merchandise, listed only as a “large amount of miscellaneous items” in Medford police reports, was valued at about $3,599. Taylor allegedly attempted to provide police with a false identity before her identity was confirmed through fingerprint records, according to court documents filed in the case. She has at least one California fugitive warrant charging her with robbery out of San Francisco. Taylor made her first court appearance Friday in the theft cases, along with the fugitive case. She remained in the Jackson County Jail without bail. A call to Medford police wasn’t immediately returned, but records show that Victoria’s Secret has been a frequent target of multi-thousand dollar thefts — with most going unsolved. In May of last year, about 130 bras were reported stolen from the store, amounting to losses valued at $7,854; another Medford case that same month reported quantities of bralettes, push-up bras and panties stolen, totaling $4,536. Similar Medford thefts involving thieves brazenly stealing armfuls of women’s underwear have been reported since at least 2015, according to previous news stories. Medford police have noted that company policies bar employees from physically stopping shoplifters. News stories in similar Victoria’s Secret thefts around the country also point to store layouts that place registers at the back of the store, rather than near the exit. [Source: Mail Tribune]

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