The Daily Pulse of Loss Prevention

This magazine launched a comprehensive new digital technology platform last year that offers our digital subscribers a wide array of compelling daily content. Our “Breaking News” content highlights the stories and critical events that affect the industry on a daily basis, sorting through the mountain of available news to bring you the top events that are influencing the industry and the profession.

In addition to sharing the daily news, we provide resources that support learning and career development through articles and video that help expand your base of knowledge. We offer highlights of ongoing industry events from across the country, webinars with subject-matter experts discussing the latest industry trends, and conversations that reach across the spectrum of loss prevention through our multiple social media groups.

Original content isn’t exclusive to our print resources, and the library available to our readers is growing each day. The following article summaries simply provide a small taste of the dozens of original articles that are available every month through our digital newsletter and the online version of LP Magazine. We invite you to take a closer look and read the complete articles by visiting us at LossPreventionMedia.com.

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When Tragedy Strikes the Loss Prevention Community

By Bill Davis

On the evening of April 10, 2016, a shoplifting suspect was attempting to steal three flat-screen televisions from a metro Atlanta Walmart when he was confronted by JD Ferguson, one of the store’s asset protection officers. As he approached the suspected shoplifter and asked for a receipt for the TVs, the situation quickly turned violent when the man pulled out a gun and shot Ferguson in the abdomen. Ferguson was immediately rushed to Gwinnett

Bill Davis
Bill Davis

Medical Center, but died a short time later from his injuries.

This is how quickly that lives—and families—can change forever. This is the same type of situation that almost all of us in the loss prevention community have faced on countless occasions in retail stores all across the country. Many of us can tell stories about situations that escalated, facing desperate individuals that take foolish steps to avoid apprehension and the potential loss of personal freedom. Unfortunately, there are also those of us that can no longer share such stories.

We never know what we’re walking into when we attempt to detain a suspected thief. We can only guess at the circumstances that led them to this ill-advised situation and the potential consequences of their actions. We’re trained on how to manage these situations and how to take the necessary precautions to avoid risks and injury. But the harsh reality is that tragedy can still strike at any time. It could have happened to any one of us—likely on any number of occasions and in any number of different situations.

There are times when loss prevention can be a dangerous profession, and the last thing that any of us wants is a reminder like the events that unfolded on the evening of April 10th. But the tragedy reaches beyond the events of that day.

Honoring the Family
Jaseramie Dion “JD” Ferguson had worked at the store for seven months when he was shot. But it was much more than a young career that JD was launching. A married father of three, he left behind his wife, Tiana, a three-year-old daughter, Aryana, a one-year-old son, Jordan, and their three-

JD Ferguson
JD Ferguson

month-old daughter, Ava. We lost a member of our extended family with the passing of this young man. But we must also remember that a wife lost her husband, and three children lost their father.

Representing the Loss Prevention Foundation and the Loss Prevention Benevolent Fund, I had the distinct honor of visiting with JD’s wife, Tiana, back in May. She requested to meet me at the very store where JD lost his life. And while I was taken back by the courage that this young woman has shown and the dedication that she has for her young family, I was overwhelmed by the gratitude that Mrs. Ferguson expressed when the Loss Prevention Benevolent Fund presented her with a check for $10,000 to help assist with the financial responsibilities that she was facing in the wake of this difficult time.

No one should feel that pain, and the financial assistance that was provided can never make up for this family’s loss. But the relief and appreciation that rushed across her face was overpowering. Tiana was accompanied by her loving family, who showed the support that I knew would help her get through these difficult times. On behalf of the LP/AP community, we would like to send our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Ferguson family.

Social Media Monitoring and the Power of Information

By Brittany Griffin and Read Hayes, PhD

Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr…these social media entities are readily becoming an essential unit within the business world. Woven into the very fabric of data collection, social media monitoring is being utilized as a data extraction tool to better predict, collect, and analyze various data events within any organization. By enabling users to better predict patron purchases, collect useful information from potential threat sources, and analyze current industry trends, social media monitoring is widely adaptable.

Social media has become synonymous with the way information is communicated during this day and age. Unlike the mediums for communication in the past, social media information is instant, easily disseminated, widespread, and has now become an essential intelligence resource for any organization.

Awareness Is Key
Awareness is a key factor when it comes to understanding the full benefits and potential consequences that social media can have on the loss prevention industry. It is imperative for each organization to understand and adapt to the various capabilities that social media monitoring resources available today have to offer. Such awareness, if only at the aggregate level, will create a foundation for asset protection/loss prevention professionals to utilize when gathering intelligence for their organizations.

This intel will catapult the level of communication amongst the users of social media within the organization. It will be paramount with respect to the analysis, dissemination, and more importantly, the collection of data. Brand message and identity can be better protected, and transferal of data-sensitive information can be more closely monitored. Potential threats made against organizations can be tracked down to the source as the existence of a loss prevention tool is created.

The Role of LPRC
LPRC researchers are working with multiple retailers to enhance situational awareness for loss prevention/asset protection professionals in the field. By utilizing a resource that has the ability to forewarn companies of individuals on their way to steal or attack a store location, by detecting risk through social media and the dark web, retailers are better able to keep employees and customers safe while mitigating potential risk and loss. Early warning allows local and corporate leaders to respond more rapidly, implementing a strategic plan of action and a more efficient response.

Social media monitoring can play a critical role in the safety and protection of the retail environment. Offenders often signal their criminal intent by recruiting, scouting, or bragging online, providing actionable pre-event indicators. Retailers should then work more closely with law enforcement to identify and define possible threats, and implement an appropriate response. This is a key proponent of LPRC research efforts.

Gift Card Cloning

By Bill Turner, LPC
While effective in driving sales, gift cards have also caused fraud headaches for retailers for years. Gift card fraud can range from physical theft to exploiting errors on the merchant side. One newer gift card scam involves gift card cloning.

To clone a gift card, thieves steal information from inactivated cards on stores shelves, duplicate the cards using a magnetic card reader/writer, and wait for the cards to be activated. Once activated, they spend the cloned gift cards before the purchaser tries to use their legitimate card. One of the biggest mistakes retailers make is the open display of inactivated gift cards, making them physically accessible to thieves.

Consider a 2009 case from Beaverton, Oregon. Sealtiel Chacon Zepeda was standing at a Fred Meyer sales register spending a gift card when curiosity struck. He wondered how gift cards worked, how the little magnetic stripe on the back of them turned cards into store credit, and how easily he could reproduce the information stored on the card. Twenty hours of Internet searching sparked an idea that led to Zepeda stealing $6,000 from local stores and causing numerous customers to be holding useless gift cards they had legitimately purchased or received as gifts.

When backtracking the rash of customer complaints, fraud investigators detected that the cards had been tampered with when they saw that each card in question had racked up many balance inquiries per day. The culprit was a computer program that Zepeda downloaded to electronically check each card’s balances hundreds of times a day. Police were able to link Zepeda to the crime through his computer’s Internet protocol address combined with in-store video surveillance.

After being caught, Zepeda agreed to give the police a full description of his gift card cloning activities. After researching how gift cards work, he purchased a magnetic stripe reader online. He then began stealing blank gift cards on open display at numerous retailers and scanning them through his reader. He would return some of the scanned cards to the stores and wait for the computer program to alert him to when the cards were activated and loaded with money. Using a magnetic card writer, Zepeda then rewrote a leftover stolen card’s magnetic stripe with the activated card’s information, a classic example of gift card cloning. After his arrest, police found about 1,000 stolen gift cards from many retailers at Zepeda’s residence.

Gift card cloning continues to become more popular, and all merchants need to take basic precautions to prevent gift card cloning. Cards should be secured, so they are only accessible to store employees. Requiring a PIN also offers an additional layer of protection, as the redeemer needs to have the physical card in their possession in order to use it. Retailers should also implement programs and procedures to identify computer-generated gift card balance checking, thus signaling potential criminal activity.

What Is a Loss Prevention Manager?

By Jacque Brittain, LPC
What is a loss prevention manager? What might appear to be a fairly simple question now requires a much more complicated answer in a new age of retail where roles and responsibilities are changing on a regular and consistent basis.

A Common Misconception
To the average consumer, a loss prevention manager is often perceived as a “security guard,” a reactionary presence in a retail establishment whose primary responsibility is to apprehend shoplifters. Tales of shoplifters subjected to heavy-handed forms of justice and employee investigations that often result in nothing more than a simple slap on the wrist have been viewed by many as the norm—and why not? Shoplifters are primarily kids stealing candy bars and lipstick, right? Does it really make that much difference if an employee borrows a couple bucks from the register to buy their lunch once in awhile? The profession can be perceived as a necessary but unattractive and largely unwanted cost of doing business—a value measured simply by the extent of its potentially negative impact.

Those who have filled these roles have often been seen as uneducated, inexperienced individuals who are passing the time waiting to finish college or for an opportunity to become a public law enforcement officer, an individual that “wasn’t good enough” to serve in law enforcement, or a former law enforcement officer biding their time until they retire. They are often viewed as rigid, authoritarian, and one-sided. They have a singular objective and an inflexible view of right and wrong. They “look for the worst in people” and are frequently discriminatory in their approach to the customers visiting their stores. What would make someone pursue a job like that?

The Real Role of Loss Prevention
In reality, these perceptions are far from accurate. Serving in a position as a security guard is a fine and important profession, but respectfully is absolutely nothing like serving as a retail loss prevention manager any more than making cars is the same job as selling cars. There may be a common gear, but there are some significant differences that distinguish one profession from the next.

Loss prevention managers and police officers often work together in various situations and while conducting certain investigations. There are different aspects of the profession that require similar skills, mutual respect, and strong working relationships. But that doesn’t mean that every loss prevention professional has the desire to serve as a law enforcement officer. In fact, depending on the retailer and the specific role, a background as a law enforcement officer might not be a good fit for the company or a good fit for a former officer looking to pursue a second career.

The role of loss prevention is to enhance the profitability of the business—just like every other role in retail. To a large extent, this involves exploring opportunities and implementing plans that result in the reduction of retail shrink, and all of the various issues that can result in retail losses whether the result of external losses, internal losses, operational and paperwork errors, and any and all other potential sources. It encompasses the protection of all company assets, as well as our customers and employees. Often there is a significant responsibility for safety, various audit functions, employee training and awareness, and other responsibilities within the business. Ideas, responsibilities, approaches, philosophies—they’re all going to vary slightly based on the individual program. But ultimately loss prevention requires taking a more active role in the business of retail and becoming a balanced, flexible, and open-minded professional.

Cyber Crime and Ransomware: No Business Is Immune

By Bill Turner, LPC
The LP Insider has featured many articles on cyber crime, data protection, and data corruption. Business giants and the government continue to be the primary targets of criminal hackers. But any business or individual able to pay a ransom to hackers who “hijack” valuable data and hold it hostage can fall victim to ransomware.

Ransomware is defined as “a type of malicious software designed to block access to a computer or entire system’s data until a sum of money is paid.” Early incidents of ransomware mainly targeted individuals. Perpetrators of this type of cyber crime are now targeting businesses, obviously because businesses are perceived to have more money and more to lose than most individuals. The FBI estimates that ransomware extortion tactics will cost business over $1 billion in losses going forward.

And no business is immune from cyber crime and ransomware, not even the sports industry. NASCAR racing teams constantly face complicated technical challenges to optimize their vehicles for peak performance. But rarely has there been a problem quite like the one Circle Sport – Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) faced earlier this year. Much of their critical data was held hostage. It began in April when the team’s crew chief noticed some unfamiliar files on his computer. Not thinking much of it, he continued operating as usual, compiling data that teams typically use for races including track data, information from test facilities, and personal files. An engineer on the team later noticed a cache of files being uploaded to the team’s Dropbox account and got suspicious that something bad was happening. Sure enough, when the crew chief later accessed his computer, he found that his files were inaccessible. Only one file would open. That file issued instructions to the team to either pay a ransom within forty-eight hours or lose the files forever.

The files held hostage included everything pertaining to the racing team. Detailed setups involving their race cars, lists of parts, and custom simulations with value in the millions of dollars were encrypted by the virus. The team would be severely crippled without access to the data being held hostage. In an amazing twist, cyber crime didn’t pay much this time. The hackers only demanded $500, payable in bitcoins. The team paid the ransom and got access to their data back. The unusually small demand is rare, however. The ransom demanded is usually in the millions, if not tens of millions of dollars.

No individual or business is immune to cyber crime. And we know that there are many companies and services available to aid in identifying and correcting existing troubles and preventing future cyber attacks. It behooves every individual and business to be sure they have resources to fully protect their computers and systems from the sophisticated and serious threats posed by criminal hackers. Is your personal computer safe? Is your company’s data security ensured? If you don’t know, find out.

More on LossPreventionMedia.com

For more original news content, see the following articles:

  • Macy’s Shoplifting Penalty Challenged in New York
  • What Is Omni-channel Retailing?
  • Retail Theft Statistics: Staying Focused on What’s Really Most Important
  • The Retail Industry Continues to Chase Amazon
  • The Debate over Restorative Justice Programs
  • Want to Know How to Reduce Shrink in Retail?
  • Every Crisis Management Plan Needs to Address Workplace Violence
  • Terrorism, Workplace Violence, and Insurance Implications
  • Fatigue, Pain, and Loss of Productivity in Retail Work
  • Are Thefts by Senior Citizens Rivaling Juvenile Shoplifting?

EyeOnLP Videos
Our original content includes videos produced by the magazine’s EyeOnLP team as well as from Wicklander-Zulawski:

  • EyeOnLP: Leading Professional Development Change with Game Changers
  • EyeOnLP: ORC Management and Successful Civil Recovery
  • WZ / IAI Interviewing Tip: Translate Your WZ Skills
  • WZ / IAI Interviewing Tip: The Innocent’s Fear of Being Disbelieved
  • WZ / IAI Interviewing Tip: The Agitated Interviewer

Career Development
As part of the magazine’s mission to promote career growth at all levels, our LP101 article series address base LP knowledge and career advice:

  • Taking the Next Step along Your Loss Prevention Career Path
  • LP101: Embezzlement in the Retail Environment
  • A Resignation Letter Should Help Move Your Loss Prevention Career Forward
  • LP101: Credit Card Fraud
  • The Crossroads along a Loss Prevention Career Path
  • Completing the Loss Prevention Job Search: Preparing for Your Resignation
  • In a Job Interview, Appearance is More than Just the Way We Look

LPM Voice
Our LPM Voice articles offer in-depth discussion of key topics of interest to LP professionals:

  • How Sears Holdings Changed Its View on First Offenders and Earned “Gushing Praise” from Law Enforcement
  • Increase ROI and Uncover Issues through Video-Based Operations Audits
  • Technology, ROI Driving CA Partnership Program Participation
  • Everybody Wins: A Fresh Way to Manage the Scourge of Shoplifting
  • 8 Tips to Protect Profits during the Back-to-School Rush
  • Loss Prevention Technology That’s Expanding Our Video Solutions

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