Breaking News in the Industry: September 24, 2018

Mail theft leads to $400K in credit-card charges

A group in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is accused of stealing mail to get credit-card account numbers to buy nearly $400,000 in gift cards and merchandise at Meijer Inc. stores and other retailers, an indictment said. The suspects operated throughout Michigan, the government said. The indictment said that $396,000 was fraudulently charged to credit cards.

Travis Keion Rolle, Edward Lee Rolle, Dontwan Alan Sanders, Michael Marcus Dillard, Natia Monique Hudson, Kendal Adrian Jones and Fabian Leon Johnson are named in an 18-count indictment alleging aggravated identity theft, possession of stolen mail, access-device (credit or debit card) fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud and aggravated identity theft. At least two of the suspects, Travis Rolle and Hudson, came to Kent County from Florida around March 15, “for the purpose of stealing mail and obtaining credit card account numbers assigned to other persons to purchase merchandise and stored-value cards (gift cards) from retailers,” Assistant US Attorney Christopher O’Connor wrote in the indictment.

The government said stolen account numbers were used at Meijer stores in Kent, Kalamazoo, Eaton, Calhoun and Berrien counties. The mail was stolen from Kalamazoo, Kent, Washtenaw and Wayne counties, the indictment said. The indictment was unsealed Thursday, Sept. 20, upon the arrests of Travis Rolle, Fabian Johnson and Kendal Jones, court records showed. The charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and aggravated identify theft and possession of stolen mail carry potential penalties of five years in prison. Access-device fraud carries a penalty of up to 10 years. Aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory two-year prison term to be served consecutive to any other sentence.   [Source: MLive]

Employee, sheriff’s office deputy prevent $136,000 scam

In New York, quick actions by a Walmart employee and an Erie County Sheriff’s deputy prevented a woman from losing over $136,000 to a phone and computer scam, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office reported Friday. The employee, who works at the Walmart on Transit Road in Lancaster, called the ECSO on Tuesday after an Elma woman attempted to buy multiple gift cards in large dollar amounts, totaling thousands of dollars.

The customer told the deputy that she had received a call from an individual saying he was from the Better Business Bureau. The individual provided the victim with a fake ID number and said that he was calling her because she was owed a refund from a company that was going out of business. The individual then told the woman to enter her personal information into a computer refund and to enter $509.98 to claim the refund. The individual then claimed she made an error in entering the refund, and that she was accidentally paid too much. The caller insisted the victim go to Walmart and load money onto gift cards to repay the difference for the overpaid refund. She was also instructed to pay cash for the gift cards.

The victim’s bank noted that six transactions totaling over $136,000 occurred recently and that transfers were still pending. The bank representative placed an immediate stop on the transactions, stopping the victim from losing any money. The deputy followed the victim home and recorded information about her computer. A followup investigation determined that the suspect had gained remote access to the victim’s computer and was able to transfer funds between the accounts.

“BBB commends the quick-thinking employee who recognized the scam and urges all businesses to educate and empower employees to be part of the solution to scams and fraud,” said Warren Clark, President and CEO of Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York. “Consumers also need to understand the tricks of scammers, and can learn more at BBB.org/AvoidScams. We also urge anyone who has been targeted by a scammer to report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker.”   [Source: WIVB4 News]

Halloween spending to hit $9B

Total spending for Halloween will stay about the same as last year, according to the National Retail Federation’s annual survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics. It will reach $9 billion, the second highest in the survey’s 14-year history, just missing last year’s record $9.1 billion in sales.
 Most of it, $3.2 billion, will be spent on costumes (bought by 68% of Halloween shoppers), followed by $2.7 billion on decorations (74%), $2.6 billion on candy (95%) and $400 million on greeting cards (35%).

More than a third (35%) of those looking for costumes will search online for inspiration, 29% in stores, 19% will ask friends and family, 19% will look to Pinterest and 16% will look to Facebook, according to the report. For costumes, party supplies and other goodies, 45% will head to discount stores, 35% to a specialty Halloween store or costume store, 25% to department stores, 24% to grocery stores and 24% to the internet.   [Source: RetailDIVE]

Former top cop accused of shoplifting

A former Hinsdale, Massachusetts, police chief has paid $100 in court fees stemming from a shoplifting charge at Walmart, and store security told police they suspect her in a number of past shoplifting incidents.Nancy Daniels, 52, failed to scan $71.68 of merchandise at the self-checkout station and tried to leave the Curran Memorial Highway store without paying, according to security personnel, who reported incident to police about 8:30 a.m. Daniels did not deny the allegations, according to the probable cause report filed by North Adams Police Officer Brad Vivori. Daniels, who lives in North Adams, also is a suspect in several past shoplifting incidents, employees told police.

In an affidavit filed with police, the asset protection assistant store manager said he had just compiled video and statements to press charges against Daniels for past shoplifting incidents when she entered the store shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday. Employees observed as she made “no attempt” to scan several items. Daniels was arraigned in Northern Berkshire District Court on Wednesday on a single count of shoplifting by asportation. The charge was continued without a finding and dismissed upon payment of $100 in court fees. Daniels was dismissed from her post as police chief in 2014 for allegedly failing to achieve adequate training — a decision that sparked controversy in the town. She had been named chief in 2013.   [Source: The Berkshire Eagle]

WATCH: Theft suspect ‘rolling back’ stalled getaway vehicle

Ian always has his phone out capturing content for his band ‘Unconfined.’ “Yeah, I film a lot for the band,” he says, “but I guess you just never know and it’s that age where if you see something you can catch it. You never know.” It was “content” that he found one Friday afternoon that turned an unexpected sight into a video now seen by nearly 30,000 people and shared close to 600 times.

On September 14th, Ian was shopping at the Clarkston Walmart in Idaho. “I was coming out of the store and it was happening right in front of me. Basically what went down was he was pushing a cart out that he purchased a few things and I guess he had some stuff underneath that he wasn’t supposed to have, he didn’t pay for it.” Clarkston Police say loss prevention stopped the man, and struggled with his cart before he left everything and tried to run. What happened next made Ian whip out his phone.

“This *expletive* dude just stole from Walmart,” Ian says in the Facebook video, “and he’s fleeing the scene but this *expletive* gotta push his car to start it. He’s gotta push-start his car!” There in the Walmart parking lot, Ian captured the man rolling back and forth trying to start his pickup. Ian even walked up and talked to him. “They’re gonna get you,” Ian says from behind his phone. The man stops pushing just long enough to look at him and say, “I know.”

“One gentleman walked up to help him and the loss prevention people, everyone who saw the incident happen were yelling out saying not to help him,” Ian recalls. Without the aid of bystanders, the man, later identified as Johnathan Pursel, Jr. did get the Mazda started, but he didn’t get far. Clarkston Police pulled him over on Fair Street and arrested him.  Ian caught that on video as well – he’s waiting to release it. The Clarkston Police report says Pursel was charged with a 3rd degree theft citation and has been trespassed from Walmart for 99 years.   [Source: KLEW TV News]

Hacker linked to data breach gets 14 years in prison

A Latvian computer programmer was sentenced to 14 years in prison for designing a program that helped hackers improve malware – including some used in the 2013 Target breach. Ruslan Bondars, a 37-year-old Latvian citizen, was found guilty at a May trial in Alexandria federal court, during which a co-conspirator revealed the pair had worked with Russian law enforcement. Hackers used their “Scan4You” program to see if anti-virus programs would identify their software as malicious; it could be adapted into malware kits sold to cybercriminals. Bondars argued there are legal uses for the product and he was not responsible for when it was used illegally.

“Our position protects all online businesses; all online businesses have legitimate and illegitimate users,” defense attorney Jessica Carmichael said in court Friday. “It’s an interesting theory,” Judge Liam O’Grady responded, but not one that applies in criminal cases. He told Bondars, “There’s zero chance that you didn’t know the harm being done by the malware hackers used your service to perfect.” Prosecutors said it is common and perfectly legal to hold software developers liable for creating products that could be used for good as well as ill.

“The defendant apparently thinks he is unique in being charged for creating and selling a computer product that had theoretical lawful uses. He is not. Malware often has theoretical lawful uses,” Assistant US Attorney Kellen Dwyer wrote in his sentencing argument. A co-conspirator Taylor Huddleston made a similar argument in an interview with the Daily Beast last year, saying he was being prosecuted for designing software he never intended as malicious. Huddleston, 27, ultimately pleaded guilty to a hacking-related crime in Alexandria; one of his co-defendants testified against Bondars.

One Scan4You user was behind the 2013 theft of credit card information from about 40 million of Target customers. “I feel ashamed that some of the website users used it for such terrible things,” Bondars told the court in halting English Friday. But Bondars argued in court filings that the service had little to do with the massive data breach, which cost the retailer hundreds of millions of dollars. He emphasized the malware was also run through a mainstream virus-detection service and that Target’s own security system saw the breach but it was ignored. Bondars’s product was not actually used to help get into Target’s system or steal the information, according to court testimony. An expert from Verizon who helped investigate the hack said the files tested in Scan4You were likely used to figure out where payment information was stored.

Cybersecurity experts have said the hacker, identified in court as “Profile 958,” is likely a Ukrainian named Andrey Hodirevski. Target is demanding restitution from Bondars; an amount has yet to be decided. While Bondars was never charged with direct involvement in any hacking and made little money from Scan4You, court documents show he had used malware to rob people and to trick people into buying anti-virus services they did not need. Services like Scan4You remain easy to find online; prosecutors say it was an “innovation” in malware that has inspired copycats. “At the beginning Scan4You was so small,” Bondars said Friday. “It got much bigger very quickly; it happened so fast.”    [Source: The Spokesman-Review]

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