Security Technology Executive

SEP-OCT 2014

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September/October 2014 • SECURITY TECHNOLOGY EXECUTIVE 19 groups include watches, jewelry, handbags and cell phones. In addition, he warns retailers about the renaissance of an old problem: "We have recently seen a huge spike in counterfeit money being passed nationwide." Phelps adds that cards have become a hot item, too—particularly telephone calling cards. "Some ORC groups have computer people who can make a hundred non-activated calling cards usable each day," he says. Adam Parker, Director of Loss Prevention for Lamps Plus, sees a trend in the use of counterfeit credit cards. "ORC activity in the form of shoplift- ing is not as common at our stores because of the product mix, which is lighting and home décor," he points out. "However, counterfeit credit cards, particularly when used toward the purchase of gift cards, seems to be a favorite of these ORC rings." McGour ty also notes the problems with credit cards: "Credit card numbers are being skimmed and transferred to other cards, and used to purchase gift cards," he notes. "Gift card fraud continues to plague retailers, and we are starting to see this fraud spill into the hospital- ity industry, as well." Parker points out that gift cards purchased with counterfeit credit cards are perfect for any occa- sion. "Gift cards are a cash equivalent and are very easy for the fraudsters to resell," he points out. Retail crime is not new, and neither are effective deterrents. (Image Courtesy of Chuck McGourty, executive director of the National Anti-Organized Retail Crime Association (NAORCA). Adam Parker, Director of Loss Prevention for Lamps Plus. In a similar fashion, according to the NRF sur- vey, thieves are also employing the old returning- stolen-merchandise-for-credit scam—then resell- ing the store credits at a discounted price. Virtual Flea Markets Once ORC items are boosted, they have to be turned around in order for the thieves to make a profit. The typical outlets for merchandise stolen by ORC rings have been swap meets, also called flea markets; via professional fenc- es, who pay pennies on the dollar for ripped- off goods; or in pawn shops, which will take in higher-value items. Phelps recently encountered over 30 types of H&B items available from one seller in a local flea market. "They were all half-price," he observes. "The key to ORC is that the thieves don't have places to hide the stolen merchandise and keep it on hand for a long time. They need to move prod- uct in less than forty-eight hours," he says. Phelps also ferreted out a truck driver tangen- tially involved with ORC groups. "The local trucker admitted he does side runs for a guy who pallet- izes mixed stolen items and ships them to smaller storage units," he reveals. "The products are then moved or sold within a day. After all, the more quickly they move it, the more they can sell." While these outlets remain old standbys, the virtual world of Internet commerce is playing a bigger part than ever in the process of disposing of ill-gotten gains. The NRF survey revealed that retailers "believe that more than one-third of items labeled 'new in box,' or 'new with tags' on auction and blog sites are stolen or were fraudulently obtained." Building a Better Mousetrap Tippett headlines the beginning of McAfee Institute's online course that leads to a Certi- fied O rganiz ed Retail Cr ime Investigator (CORCI) credential. The training incorporates information crucial to determining whether an online seller may be offering stolen goods for sale. Some of the tips include investigating a seller's longevity and reputation on a site such as eBay. Several early small-dollar transactions that result in marvelous feedback, coupled with one or later changes of user name, may indicate that a seller offering new products at well-below MSRP is really fencing hot items. Another method for finding a store's stolen merchandise online is to research sellers who use the Craigslist web site to determine whether they are have multiple listings of the same items (or lots of the same product). Seller identities can sometimes be determined by conducting an online

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