Breaking News in the Industry: December 4, 2018

external theft, organized retail crime methods

ORC fraud ring busted; 4 arrested

The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office has charged four people in what it calls organized retail fraud, and is attempting to shut down a Detroit, Michigan, bar alleged to be the “fence” for the stolen goods, officials said Monday. Three women… Beverly Jo Sassin, 70, of New Boston; Amanda Lynn Mosed, 38, of New Boston; and Jodie Beth Welbes, 49, of Lincoln Park, face eight counts related to the case. They were each given cash bonds of $100,000 last week at their arraignments at Dearborn’s 19th District Court. Christopher Bucannion, 45, of New Boston, faces the same slate of eight charges, along with two gun charges, and received a $250,000 bond.

During a Monday press conference at the Dearborn Police Department, Chief Ronald Haddad described the “most senior” of the four as the ringleader, without mentioning Sassin by name. Police and prosecutors say the theft ring stole goods for months from big box retailers and grocery stores, such as Kroger, Meijer, Home Depot and Target. Many of the items, they say, were resold out of Cas Bar in Detroit and on the border with Dearborn.

Dennis Doherty, an assistant prosecutor for Wayne County, said the office is “working on having it padlocked,” and that the defendants are connected to the business. A bartender at Cas Bar, who is not among the four facing charges, declined comment. A corner of a conference room was filled with proceeds from the alleged theft ring, including three video arcade games, a washing machine, many bottles of top shelf liquor, and some $620,000 in cash. “This was not someone looking for a deal at Christmastime,” Haddad said. “This isn’t a pack of gum… it’s high-end stuff.”   [Source: The Detroit News]

Fraud scheme involves State Assemblyman

A federal grand jury returned a superseding indictment against defendant Terrence Patrick Goggin with four counts of wire fraud and nine counts of money-laundering, announced United States Attorney Alex G. Tse, Internal Revenue Service Special Agent in Charge Tara Sullivan, and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett. Goggin, 76, is a former California State Assemblyman and current California-licensed attorney.

According to the superseding indictment, Goggin also was the CEO of Metropolitan Coffee & Concessions (MC2) and perpetrated an investment fraud scheme through the company. MC2 owned and operated four Peet’s Coffee & Tea retail centers in Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) stations and held permits to expand their business to other stations. In 2013, Goggin solicited and obtained money from private equity investors to fund the build-out of two additional retail centers at the Civic Center and Balboa Park BART stations.

The indictment alleges that after receiving investor funds, Goggin diverted the money to non-approved business projects in New York City, including a now-closed restaurant called “Preserve 24.” Goggin also used his authority as CEO to direct MC2 employees to transfer the investor money inappropriately. Further, Goggin used investor funds to support his personal spending and transferred thousands of dollars to a girlfriend in Thailand.   [Source: East County Today]

ID theft a major concern of holiday shoppers

Retailers could end up on consumers’ naughty lists this holiday. This was according to new data from Generali Global Assistance (GCA), which reported that 71% of shoppers are concerned that their financial and personal information could be compromised due to data breaches while shopping for holiday gifts.

This holiday season, most (65%) plan to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, online via a laptop / desktop computer (59%), and through mobile devices (36%). Regardless of their preferred shopping method, 33% of consumers don’t believe businesses are doing all they can to protect their personal information; another 33% said they are unsure if businesses are doing enough. This was a decrease of 7% and 5%, respectively from 2017. Moreover, if a retailer experienced a data breach in the past, 83% of shoppers feel concerned making an online or in-store purchase at that retailer.

When it comes to identity theft, data breaches from online merchants (51%) far outweighed other risks on shoppers’ minds. Twenty percent believed brick-and-mortar point-of-sale systems cause a threat to identity theft, while 15% feared their identity theft could result from being pick-pocketed or robbed. Ten percent feared it would result from having their car broken into. “For many, the holiday season is stressful enough without having to worry that one’s identity will be stolen,” said Paige Schaffer, president and COO of Generali Global Assistance’s Identity and Digital Protection Services Global Unit.   [Source: Chain Store Age]

Teenage Cell phone store armed robbers arrested

A Nashville, Tennessee, teen is in custody after police believe he committed a series of armed robberies at cell phone  and convenience stores in two counties. According to police, 18-year-old Azreal Scribner who was arrested by the Juvenile Task Force at an apartment complex in East Nashville. Police said a strong odor of marijuana hit them when the door to the apartment opened. They said they interviewed Scribner, a 17-year-old, a 15-year-old, and 19-year-old Ronald Adkins.

Scribner and the 17-year-old admitted to their involvement in the several robberies, detectives said. The 17-year-old was arrested by Franklin police for the November 25 attempted robbery of a Verizon Wireless on Mallory Lane. He is being held in Williamson County.  Additional robbery charges against him and Scribner will also come from Davidson and Williamson Counties.

Police said they seized three semi-automatic pistols, two of them had extended magazines, from the Porter Road apartment.  A search of the apartment on University Court yielded a 9mm rifle, ammunition, 10 firearm magazines, including a 100 round drum magazine, more than $9,000 in cash, and numerous iPhones. The 15-year-old was charged in juvenile court with unlawful gun possession, second offense.   [Source: WKRN.com]

Employee charged with 10 theft counts

A Wayfair employee will appear in court Friday charged with 10 counts of theft after she gave extreme discounts to family and friends on their orders, amounting to what would have been a loss of $69,000. Janae Cook, 25, faces charges of “theft by deception” after she gave family and friends discounts of up to 80 percent on orders from Wayfair in Orem, Utah.

Half of the charges are listed as second-degree felonies, and the other half are listed as third-degree felonies. According to court documents, Wayfair has a strict company policy prohibiting giving discounts to family and friend, in fact, company policy prohibits employees from taking orders from family and friends at all.   [Source: Fox13 SLC]

Lying to your significant other about holiday spending?’

Almost half of Americans say their spouse or significant other does not know how much they spend on holiday shopping, according to a new study by online rewards platform Swagbucks. ‘Tis the season to be deceptive? Since the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates holiday shopping could yield as much as $721 billion in sales for the retail industry, it makes sense that some shoppers are skittish to own up to their share of that spending. (The NRF expects 2018 holiday retail sales to rise between 4.3 and 4.8 percent in November and December over the same period last year for a total of $717.45 billion to $720.89 billion.)

But those who are willing to carry the blame for splurging this holiday season said they plan to dish out an average of $1,007.24 during the period, up 4.1 percent from last year’s $967.13, according to an annual survey by Prosper Insights & Analytics. The results of Swagbuck’s national survey of 1,000 U.S. adults, conducted online by Prodege in November, may have zeroed in on who the biggest spenders are: 85 percent of women said they do all of the shopping during the holidays, while 46 percent of men indicated they are the primary shoppers.   [Source: Footwear News]

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