Not Every Fraudster is as Smart as Alberto Gonzalez

by Brian Riley 0


Alberto Gonzalez was the mastermind behind the TJX Fraud.  You might remember the case where he was convicted for theft of more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers “stolen from major U.S. retailers as a result of the hacking activity.”  Retailers including TJX Companies, BJ’s Wholesale Club, OfficeMax, Boston Market, Barnes & Noble and Sports Authority were affected.  The case was filed and adjudicated in Massachusetts.

Today’s story is not about a genius who outwitted iconic retailers.  It takes us to the thriving metropolis of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, population 43,000. Pine Bluff is as middle-America as it gets.

A woman goes to fill her tank up at the local service station, as the local ABC Affiliate reports.  As would probably be a normal event in Arkansas, she leaves her car outside of the station with her purse. Then,  she comes out to find her car broken into.

  • Pine Bluff Police say on June 17 a woman went into the United Filling Station located at the intersection of Dollarway and Hutchinson.

  • According to a news release, she parked her vehicle in front of the business and entered the store. While she was in the store, police say a man shoplifted a bottled drink and another male also left the pumps without paying for his gas.

  • When the woman returned to her vehicle she said she found that her vehicle had been broken into and her purse had been stolen.

  • Video surveillance shows the man at the gas pump breaking in the vehicle and stealing the woman’s purse; then driving to the side of the business to pick up the man inside that shoplifted the drink before driving away.

So that is big enough news in Pine Bluff, but here is the kicker:

  • Pine Bluff Police say the woman works as a waitress at a local restaurant, located two blocks from where her purse was stolen.

  • On June 19, the woman told police a man she was serving handed her a card to pay for his meal. As she went to ring up the purchase, she discovered that the card had her own name on it.

  • According to the police report, she called police instead of ringing up the bill.

  • Pine Bluff Police arrested Shamon West, 21 at the restaurant.

This is a silly story about a serious issue.  Fraud has many components.  Surely, some fraud is organized with attacks large stores of data.  Other frauds are the onesies and twosies that add up.  This would probably never be found in the streets of NYC, but in small town USA, a watchful eye helps.

Moreover, karma has a strange way of catching up with people.

Overview by Brian Riley, Director, Credit Advisory Service at Mercator Advisory Group

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