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ORC 1-23-15




14 member Visa/Gift card scam gang being sought across the Midwest
Law enforcement officers across the Midwest, including White Lake Township, are trying to stop a group of people involved in a Visa and gift card scam. Approximately 10 women and four men have been identified as being involved in the scam, said Willing. All of the suspects live in the Flint area, he said. A group involved in the scam walk into a store such as Walmart, as they did in White Lake. They choose blank gift cards and take them to the register. They pull out a "cloned" credit card with numbers taken from another actual card. If the cloned card doesn't work, one shopper is known to say to the clerk, "We've had this problem in the past with this card so just hit the cash tender key and it will go through." By pressing that button, said police, the register shows that cash was handed over for the gift cards. The people then leave after paying for nothing. But the thieves are after cold cash, say police. They take the loaded gift cards to a store such as Best Buy and purchase items such as computers or TVs. They take that item to another Best Buy with a receipt, and return the purchased item for cash. The thieves have struck all over Michigan, said Trooper James Willing with the Tri-City Post in Freeland, including White Lake, St. Clair, Mt. Pleasant, Lansing, Grand Ledge and Flint. Similar scams have been reported in Ohio, Indiana - and even as far away as Atlanta and New York.

Credit card fraud case in Tyler, TX, leads back to Russia - 'Re-packaging' Scam
According to law enforcement: a Tyler man alerted them to more than $5,000 worth of fraudulent charges made to his credit card. Police tracked the items to another Tyler residence where they found nearly $10,000 worth of expensive merchandise including purses, tools, and electronics. The man who was living there says he accepted an job online as a "re-packager" and was instructed to put new shipping labels on the boxes and send them to Ann Arbor, Michigan without looking inside. Investigators in Michigan say the residents the items were being shipped to were of Russian descent. The items were then to be re-sold online and a portion of the funds sent back to Russia. Because this crime spans international borders, finding the source of the scheme may prove to be very difficult.

Law enforcement officers - ORC Couple busted returning online purchased - discounted luxury dolls for full price at American Girl store in Mall of America 30 times  Former State Commerce agent Jennifer Jo Cho, 37, and her husband, former Rosemount police officer Henry Lim Cho, 34, are accused of returning discount merchandise bought online to the Bloomington store for full price. In more than 30 visits to the store, the two returned about 135 items between October 2013 and November 2014. While the total loss to the store was hardly astronomical — just over $5,300, according to charging documents - the charges are unusual in that they're directed at people whose life work had been catching criminals. The Chos would return the items to different cash registers in the busy store, sometimes on two separate floors at the same time, removing bar codes from the items that indicated they were discounts, the charges say. Many of the items the Chos sought to return at full price had been purchased for much lower prices from an online site called Jill's Steals and Deals, the charges say. On some occasions, the couple, who made more than 30 trips to the store, received the refunds in the form of gift cards, which they would then sell on eBay, according to the complaint. American Girl employees became suspicious in March 2014 after receiving several returns without receipts from the Chos, and one of the company's loss-prevention managers began looking into the case. Bloomington police arrested Jennifer Cho at the store in November when she tried to return 11 items she had bought online. She presented herself to the officers as a special agent for the Minnesota Department of Commerce's fraud bureau, and asked several times for "professional courtesy," according to the complaint.

Lehigh County, PA's largest shoplifting case taken over by Federal Authorities
Federal authorities have taken over prosecuting one of three women in what Lehigh County authorities said was the single largest retail theft case in the county. Lehigh County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Burd said evidence shows the women were part of a bigger theft ring that hit stores in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. Torral Scott, Latoya Payne and a third woman were arrested after allegedly stealing items 11 times at six Pennsylvania Target stores in Lehigh, Northampton, Monroe, Berks, York and Dauphin counties in 2012. The defendants stole hard drives, ink cartridges, storage containers and miscellaneous items. Scott was convicted by a Lehigh County jury and sentenced last February to six to 16 years in state prison for the series of thefts. But federal authorities have taken over prosecuting Payne. Payne posted bail shortly after being charged in the same case and fled. Those charges were dropped last week; Burd said he wanted to be absolutely sure federal authorities had taken custody of Payne before dropping the county case. Prosecutors said Scott and Payne were arrested at the Hanover Township store in October 2012 after an employee recognized them as two women reported to have stolen items from the Lower Nazareth Township location. A Target security officer gave a description of the women and their car to state police, who pulled them over and discovered stolen items as well as bags commonly used to conceal merchandise and defeat security tags. State police said the merchandise was placed from shelves into a storage container inside a shopping cart and that the defendants left the cart in the area of the registers while a third person entered the stores and took the cart without paying.

Inmate linked to $1.7 Million Prescription Drug Ring; Rite Aid Pharmacy employee linked to scheme  A Northumberland County inmate has been linked to a $1.7 million drug ring in which phony prescriptions for oxycodone were written on prescription pads stolen from 50 physicians across Pennsylvania, state Attorney General Kathleen Kane announced today. Central to the 20-person ring, according to the indictment, was a Rite-Aid employee who allegedly changed physicians' phone numbers in her employer's database to one central phone number that answered by Kevin Andrews Jr., of Delaware County, who Kane's office claims was the leader of the organization. Andrews would "confirm" prescriptions when pharmacists called to verify them, the indictment alleges. The "sophisticated prescription drug forgery ring," according to Kane, operated in 44 of Pennsylvania's 67 counties.

ORC 1-23-15
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