VA: U.S. Department of State sees illicit cigarette trafficking as Security
Threat; $7 Billion in Tax loss |
A recent U.S. Department of State report on illegal tobacco trafficking deems it
a lucrative revenue source for organized crime and terrorists in addition to
costing state and local governments in the U.S. an estimated $3 billion to $7
billion in tax losses each year. Virginia is a popular state with traffickers
because its excise tax is the second-lowest in the country, while New York City,
just a short drive away, has the second-highest. The State Department report,
"The Global Illicit Trade in Tobacco: A Threat to National Security," was
released Wednesday at a meeting of the Interagency Working Group to Combat
Illicit Tobacco, in support of the U.S. National Strategy to Combat
Transnational Organized Crime. The group was initiated by the State Department
and first met in January. It is aimed at addressing the rise of illicit tobacco
trafficking, which the group says is a major international criminal enterprise
and growing security threat.
TN: Two arrested linked to $60,000 PetSmart tri-state merchandise return scam
On December 3, 2015 Kingsport Police were dispatched to PetSmart. Upon arrival,
they encountered Courtney Star Weaver, who had been detained by store loss
prevention personnel after being caught in the act of returning $165 in stolen
merchandise. The stolen property consisted of flea and tick preventative
medication and pet supplements. Further investigation determined that she had
used a false name while signing for the merchandise return transaction. She had
returned the merchandise utilizing a counterfeit electronic receipt generated on
her smart phone. Ms. Weaver was also found to be in possession of a small
quantity of a white powdery substance believed to be Heroin. An accomplice,
identified as Kevin Eugene Clark, had knowingly driven Ms. Weaver to PetSmart to
commit the theft. He was located in a rental car in the parking lot. He was also
in possession of over $200 in cash that was received in an earlier fraudulent
merchandise return scam. Inside the vehicle, officers located two additional
packages of flea and tick preventative medication ($180 value) that had been
stolen from another PetSmart location. A PetSmart national loss prevention
representative briefed the officers on an ongoing investigation during which he
had followed these individuals for several weeks across North Carolina, South
Carolina, and Tennessee. Over the course of his investigation he had documented
approximately $60,000 in thefts and fraudulent returns of merchandise from
multiple PetSmart locations.
FL: 3 arrested in $100,000 fraud ring; FDLE says two suspects still at large
Authorities have arrested an Orlando man and two of his suspected accomplices
for their alleged role in a fraud ring that netted more than $100,000. The
Florida Department of Law Enforcement said Charles R. Griffis, 64, faces charges
for the organized planning of theft and conspiracy to traffic in stolen
property. The FDLE said an investigation launched in 2013 revealed that Griffis
sold merchandise stolen from big box retailers to unsuspecting customers on his
eBay store "Husky's Shop." Among the items stolen were high-end vacuum cleaners,
health and beauty supplies and razor blade cartridges. Authorities said the
merchandise was stolen for Griffis by four accomplices: James Marvin Bailey, 34,
Kara Marie Wolfe, 26, Bonnie Ouellette, 44, and Kay Rhanae Baignosche, 32.
Bailey, who was already in custody on an unrelated charge, and Wolfe were also
arrested Thursday. They were charged with dealing or trafficking in stolen
property and conspiracy to traffic in stolen property. Oulette and Baignosche
remain at large.
Garden City, NY: Queens man busted for Credit card fraud;
$7,100 purchase at Nordstrom and another $3,700 at PC Richards
The Major Case Bureau reports the arrest of a Queens man for grand larceny that
occurred in Garden City on Saturday at 4:57 P.M. According to detectives,
Michael Graf, 45, of Far Rockaway, entered Nordstrom department store and
attempted to purchase $7,137.50 worth of assorted merchandise on a male victim's
Nordstrom account. The defendant also produced a fraudulent NJ State Driver
License in the victim's name. The defendant was apprehended by a Nordstrom Loss
Prevention employee. A subsequent investigation by detectives revealed that
earlier that day the defendant made purchases in the amount of $3,728.86 at P.C.
Richard & Son in Carle Place, using the same victim's account.
Peabody, MA: Police arrest Brooklyn man with over 100 counterfeit Credit Cards,
used between Brooklyn and the North Shore
Luis Melendez was found to be in possession of over 100 fraudulent and
counterfeit charge cards which were being utilized to purchase high value
merchandise in the Northshore Mall, along with malls located between the North
Shore area and Brooklyn. A large quantity of the merchandise was located within
the vehicle during the motor vehicle stop.
Chicago, IL: Sam's Club employee charged with theft of $4,700 on 205 Gift Cards
Earnestine S. Adams, 44, was charged Nov. 17 with theft. According to police
reports, Adams was an employee at Sam's Club, 335 N. Milwaukee Ave., and over an
eight-week period she allegedly loaded money onto 205 gift cards that she did
not pay for, totaling about $4,700 in merchant credit.
Hershey, PA: Woman charged, man sought in $2,100 theft
from 5 Tanger Outlet stores
Derry Township Police said witnesses saw a man and woman putting clothes in the
trunk of a car Thursday morning. Nakisha Savoy, of Baltimore, was arrested after
police found clothes from five Tanger Outlet stores in her car. The clothes are
worth over $2,100. Police believe Savoy was helped by Kendell Glover, of
Baltimore, but he was able to get away from police. An arrest warrant is being
obtained for Glover.
Trio hits Target store in Georgia, Kentucky and now Murfreesboro, TN
Target Stores have been tracking three men who have hit stores everywhere from
Atlanta, Georgia to Bowling Green, Kentucky. The three subjects are now in
Murfreesboro, Tennessee where they were able to steal $2,700 from the Target
Store on Old Fort Parkway. Evidently, the men enter the store together and head
to different cashiers and confuse the clerks at checkout telling them to hit
certain keys on the cash register which cashes money out and prints a receipt.
The Cashiers then hand the suspects the money and the men leave the store with
cash in hand. Despite the stores loss prevention workers tracking the subjects
from state to state, they have not been caught. Right now, they remain at large.
North Little Rock, AR: Police seek man who stole 9 TVs from Wal-Mart
North Little Rock police are seeking a man after 9 TVs were stolen from a
Wal-Mart in North Little Rock over a three-day period. Authorities said in one
report that two 43-inch Vizio TVs, a 32-inch Sharp TV and a heater were stolen
from the Wal-Mart at 1:50 p.m. Sunday. An asset protection employee at the store
told police that the man exited the store's garden center with the unpaid-for
merchandise. According to the Wal-Mart employee, the man left in a red vehicle.
Three additional 32-inch TVs, two Samsungs and one Sharp were stolen from the
Maumelle Boulevard location about 11:06 a.m. Monday by a man matching the same
description as the previous theft. The last three 32-inch TVs stolen - two
Sharps and one Emerson - were taken by the man mentioned in the two previous
reports about 6:40 p.m. Tuesday, according to the third report.
Berkeley, CA: Apple store hit by 7 Shoplifters
Police responded to a robbery at the Apple Store in West Berkeley on Friday,
during which at least seven individuals stole iPhones and iPads from the store.
According to Berkeley Police, the robbery occurred just before 3pm., and the
suspects fled from the store on foot. No weapons were used.
Overland Park, KS: Police gear-up for Holidays;
already responded to over 500 thefts this year
Oroville, CA: Man arrested in $1,600 grand theft
from boat shop