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ORC 5-23-14




Multi-Million Interstate Transportation of Stolen Goods Operation Sends Leader to Federal Prison

HOUSTON – Sameh Khaled Danhach, also known by many other aliases, has been ordered to prison for nearly 13 years following his conviction on six counts related to the interstate transportation of stolen goods and obstruction of justice, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson. A federal jury sitting in Houston convicted Danhach March 4, 2013, after just an hour of deliberation following a five-day trial.

Today, U.S. District Judge Sim Lake, who presided over the trial, handed Danhach a total sentence of 151 months in federal prison and further ordered him to pay nearly $540,000 in restitution. Danhach resides in Houston but is a legal permanent resident of the U.S. from Lebanon. He is expected to face deportation proceedings following his release from prison.

Five others are charged in the case. Two of those have pleaded guilty, while three remain as fugitives and warrants remain outstanding for their arrests.

At trial, evidence demonstrated Danhach was a high-ranking fence involved in a multi-million dollar, multi-state criminal enterprise where he received stolen over-the-counter (OTC) medicine, baby formula, health and beauty supplies and shampoo for later re-packaging and shipping. This criminal enterprise, among other things, engaged in using “boosters,” primarily undocumented Central Americans, to steal over-the-counter medication and baby formula. A “booster” is a criminal who steals goods and merchandise not for personal use but for re-sale to a “fence” for a fraction of its retail value. A “fence” is a person who receives stolen goods and merchandise from “boosters” and others. The “fence” then re-sells the stolen goods and merchandise to third parties for a profit.

The scope of this criminal enterprise ranged from April 2008 to February 2012.

Danhach owned and operated Houston-located SKD Trading Inc. and Lifetime Wholesale Inc., both shell companies operated under several other names used to facilitate their illegal activity. He hired undocumented aliens from Central and South America to travel throughout the United States to steal the OTC, beauty products and baby formula from major retail chain stores such as Target, Wal-Mart, CVS and Walgreens. He facilitated this interstate travel by renting cars for the boosters and by paying the boosters in cash for the stolen merchandise.

To avoid detection by law enforcement, the undocumented aliens would ship the stolen merchandise to Danhach using fraudulent FedEx accounts in his shell company names. As a result of the fraudulent accounts, FedEx suffered a loss of $540,000. A representative from FedEx testified at trial about the sophistication of Danhach’s scheme stating that Danhach and others set up approximately 29 accounts using various names, company names and addresses without paying for any of the shipments.

Once the stolen merchandise arrived at Danhach’s Houston warehouse, he had his “employees,” remove any retail store identifying labels and security features. Danhach would then have the stolen products repackaged and then re-sold to wholesalers across the nation.

A search warrant was executed on March 1, 2012, at Danhach’s Houston warehouse, at which time agents seized criminal ledgers maintained by Danhach, which documented the extent of Danhach’s criminal enterprise. Specifically, the records showed that between August 2011 through January 2012, Danhach was responsible for nearly $3 million in sales of stolen OTC items. At the time of the search, Danhach instructed a co-conspirator to hide a video recording from the warehouse’s security cameras in the warehouse’s ceiling. The video specifically showed several days worth of stolen merchandise being delivered to the warehouse, undocumented aliens removing the retailers’ labels, then repackaging and shipping the OTC items on pallets.

Several cooperating witnesses testified on behalf of the United States, including one of his “boosters,” who admitted that between August 2011 and February 2012, he traveled around the Houston area and the state in cars rented by Danhach, stealing OTC medication and beauty supplies from Wal-Marts. In a six-month-period, the witness admitted he was responsible for stealing more than $230,000 worth of merchandise from Wal-Mart.

At the sentencing hearing today, the court also considered Danhach’s role in the receipt of 38 Parmigiani watches taken during a June 2010 robbery of travelling Swiss jewelers. The government presented evidence that he later attempted to sell the watches at a fraction of their value to a local jewelry store, at which time he was arrested. At least two of the watches were taken to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by Danhach’s brother-in-law a year after the robbery. Allegedly, Danhach’s brother-in-law took the watches, taken during the robbery, to a jewelry store where he attempted to get cases for the watches. Parmigiani officials in Switzerland became aware of this attempted transaction and notified the FBI that the two watches were presented to the UAE jewelry store representatives.

Danhach will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.

This matter was investigated by the FBI, Houston Police Department-Major Offenders Division and the Harris County Sheriff’s Office with the cooperation of CVS, Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Mead Johnson and Abbott Nutrition. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Kebharu Smith and Joe Magliolo. Thanks Tony Sheppard, National Manager, ORC Unit for CVS Caremark for submitting this article! (Source

Baby formula theft lands man 18 month prison term in Livingston County, MI.
A Livingston County judge sentenced Timothy Andrew Dewar, 40, to a maximum of 10 years in prison for first-degree retail fraud for his part in stealing more than $1,000 worth of baby formula from Wal-Mart in October. Under a plea deal, a second count alleging organized retail crime was dismissed and the prosecutor’s office agreed not to authorize new charges as a result of four separate Michigan State Police investigations also alleging theft. Dewar, who is a habitual offender, faced up to life in prison. His criminal history includes prison stints for retail fraud in Livingston, Oakland and Genesee counties as well as drug-related offenses. A co-defendant in the case was sentenced in March to one year in the county jail and five years of probation. (Source

Male ORC thief gets 16 months in jail for Ralph's liquor theft in Murrieta, CA.
Dominique Columbus Clayton, 22, of Riverside was arrested by Murrieta police earlier this month after being caught trying to steal bottles of liquor from a retail outlet. The suspect was later identified in a series of alcohol thefts related to organized retail crime in which in excess of $20,000 worth of alcohol had been stolen during the last five months in four different Southern California counties. Court records indicated he has pending criminal cases in Los Angeles County. (Source

International credit card fraud investigation leads to Lubbock and $180,000 in fraudulent charges, forged credit cards & electronics  Investigators said suspects in Malaysia hacked into credit card systems and created fake cards linked to real accounts. They believe those cards were then sent to suspects in Lubbock. Police said the Lubbock suspects used the fake cards to buy high-end electronics, and then shipped them to Malaysia in exchange for money. No arrests have been made, but police expect to file charges soon. (Source

Member of trio who hit retailers for $1 million in counterfeit checks to spend 5 years in prison in Jonesboro, Tenn.  The U.S. Attorney's office says 34-year-old Hector Galvan, his wife, and sister-in-law conspired to negotiate counterfeit checks at retailers in Tennessee and eight other states, resulting in losses in excess of one million dollars. They say the trio stole identities of people who had indicated on social media that they "liked' certain retailers. They then used those identities and used counterfeit checks to purchase merchandise. (Source

ORC Unit needs your help identifying a serial larceny suspect in Tulsa  The Organized Retail Crime Unit needs your help identifying a black male suspect who continues to commit larcenies at area QuikTrips. The black male has made this crime routine at the popular convenience mart. Officials have learned that he enters the QuikTrip, selects beer or frozen pizzas and then exits without paying for the items. There is evidence that he has committed these larcenies more than 30 times in the past several months. He has several accomplices driving him to and from the QuikTrips in late model vehicles. (Source

Fargo, ND Woman charged, others arrested in Midwestern cellphone theft ring
A Minneapolis woman has been charged and several others were arrested after being linked to nearly 20 burglaries at cellphone stores across the Midwest, including the $10,000 theft of cellphones from a Wal-Mart here. The women were stealing the phones in order to re-sell them to a buyer who runs a cellphone store in the Twin Cities. (Source

Fencing Operation: Mentor, Ohio C-store Owners Arrested for Selling Stolen Goods in Stores  Two convenience store owners face charges after being accused of buying stolen property and then selling it in their stores. According to Mentor Police Department, the arrests happened May 21 after a joint investigation that began in March regarding the sale of stolen merchandise to small retail businesses. That store was also charged with receiving stolen property, theft and purchase of alcohol for resale from other than an authorized distributor. (Source

Serial shoplifter facing felony theft charge in Bloomington, MN; hitting Target, Herberger’s and Kohl’s


ORC 5-23-14
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