Tag Archives: theft

Bank ATM “Skimmer” Busted

Romanian citizen Razvan Apostal, staying in Queens on a Visa was arrested near  Rye Brook, NY, last month for using an ATM “skimmer” to steal personal ATM card information. He also installed video surveillance cameras above ATM machines in order to steal Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).

An ATM skimming device, or skimmer, is a device that covers the ATM card slot that reads the information on the magnetic card strip, plus, depending on the device, may record the PIN as well. For less-sophisticated skimmers, a camera can be installed to capture the PIN.

Depending on the ATM, and the crook’s knowledge of their workings, skimmers can be absurdly obvious or nearly impossible to detect.

The 31-year-old’s crimes were brought to light after a banking customer notified Chase Bank that an additional security camera had been installed above the ATM machines, allegedly aimed at the user interface portion of the machine. Chase Bank authorities notified local police. After viewing surveillance footage on the camera, Mr. Apostal was identified as the suspect.

A week later, another local ATM was found with a camera installed in the same general location.

Police searched for–then arrested–Apostal for placing a skimming device, the cameras, and a mirror at several local area ATMs. When arrested, he had the skimming device in his possession. Police discovered counterfeit $100 bills when a search of the man’s property was initiated.

Apostal is in jail awaiting trial. He’s being charged for eight counts criminal possession of forged instruments and one count of unlawful possession of a skimming device.

Hotels Top Identity Theft List

Identity theft is the new watchword; hackers, thieves and criminals are continually discovering new methods to twist technology in an effort to steal personal information. Social media networks, cell phones, discarded utility bills and outright theft of personal property are all means employed by thieves to hijack your personal information.

Trustwave, a security and compliance company, provides security information services and end-to-end solutions for businesses in an effort to protect confidential information systems. A recent report shows that hotels are now the top source for credit card data theft, surpassing restaurants for the top spot; nearly 40% of all personal data in 2009 came from hotels/motels compared to just 13% of thefts from restaurants.

Hackers target hotel/motel booking and reservation centers due to the high-number of credit card numbers these entities keep “on-file.” Like the Internet, once a credit card is in the system, it’s available. A successful hacker can steal thousands of credit card numbers and, in essence, thousands–or millions–of dollars. Credit card numbers are used for numerous hotel services, such as bars, beaches, golf courses, swimming pools, gift shops, spas, and other recreational areas; however, they’re all processed through one main database.

Since hotels use proprietary systems, they’re easy for hackers to exploit: a computer system at one hotel is similar, if not exactly the same, as the computer system at a competing hotel.

The other unavoidable fact of hotels and motels are the number of employees who have access to the computer system and your personal data. According to an ABC News Report; “You have so many different employees going through the system that it allows them to either skim cards or put in malware that lets the bad guys hack into the system.”

In June 2010, Destination Hotels & Resorts had its computer system hacked and the credit card data of more than 700 guests from across the country was stolen; in January, Wyndham reported that their computer systems were breached and hackers accessed information from 31 hotels between November 2009 and January 2o1o. They never reported how many cards were compromised.

Credit card companies usually don’t require consumers to pay for unauthorized charges, but credit card users must report the theft in a timely manner to ensure their identity remains safe; the best method to is to check statements regularly and keep tabs on credit reports.

Don’t Forget to Secure the Garage!

Securing a home is something with which most of us are familiar, even if we don’t own one. Security bars, electronic locks, home security systems, video cameras, and motion-sensor lighting are all tools that help deter crime. Too often, however, the focus is on the home’s living areas, leave a “weak link” in home security that’s easy to exploit. Continue reading

Bugnets: More Than Backyard Pests

Meetings with friends or clients. Private phone conversations. New business presentations. Financial transactions. Personal/family interactions. All items that we, as citizens of the United States, assume are private interactions, protected, and respected, by others. Continue reading

Illinois Band Says “Boom Boom Pow” Stolen by Black Eyed Peas

No doubt you’ve seen Will-I-Am and Fergie, the two “front people” for the musical group Black Eyed Peas, and no doubt you’ve heard their music. But, did you know that an Aurora, IL band, Phoenix Phenom just filed a suit in Federal Court accusing the Peas stealing the hit Boom Boom Pow from them?

According to the Aurora Beacon News, Manny Mohr and Ebony Latrice Batts, aka the Phoenix Phenom, co-wrote a song in 2007 that the members from the Peas stole the song. The law suit names each one of the Black Eyed Peas individually as well as Universal Music Group, Interscope Records, & the publishing companies that claim ownership in the Peas’ latest CD, The E.N.D.

Continue reading

Chicago Police Sergeant Crosses the Line

A Chicago police officer was arrested last week for allegedly stealing over $600,000 from the Chicago Police Sergeants Association. Sergeant John Pallohusky, President of the Association, is being charged with theft and money laundering.

The Cook County attorney’s office allege that the money was spent personal items for Pallohusky. Where did the money go? Gambling trips to Las Vegas, a reported $163,000 on Ameritrade, a whopping $75,000 at Chicago restaurants, downtown hotel stays, and his home.

Police Superintendent Jody Weiss referred to the Sergeant as the “Bernie Madhoff” of the Chicago Police Department. Pallohusky’s attorney, Robert Kuzas, stated that he believed in his clients innocence, stating; “I don’t believe he misappropriated one penny of the union’s money.” Pallohusky is no stranger to crime; in 1989 he was arrested and subsequently plead guilty to a misdemeanor fraud charge over a petition drive to add a nonpartisan mayoral referendum to the ballot.

Cook County prosecutors sought to subponeae the treasurer of the Sergeants Association, Sgt. Mary O’Toole, and then discovered that she was Pallohusky’s wife. The Chicago Police Department’s Internal Affairs department began the investigation in late summer after the bank noticed that large sums of money were being deposited into Pallohusky’s private account from checks, and a credit card, drawn off the Union’s account.

Family Shoplifting Ring Get Caught on Video

Although the woman to the left, Diana Burton, is certainly what most of us would call the grandmotherly type, warm and loving, there is more to her than that. She has raised her children, and is now helping her children raise their children, just like my grandmother did for our family. Still, there’s something special about Diana. Do you feel your heart warming and getting fuzzy? Well, just let it go; Ms. Burton is a thief (allegedly). Yes, loving “Grandma Burton” is actually the matriarch of a shoplifting ring that was operating outside Cleveland just picked up by local authorities on Thursday. Her “gang” is suspected of not only committing the crimes for which they were arrested, but other thefts and fraud-type activities in Ohio, and their home town, Chicago.

 

The theft ring, comprised of grandma, her son Donald Burton, his girlfriend Amina Frye, and Frye’s two young children, an 8-year old boy and 10-year old girl, were operating in Cleveland when arrested.  They were captured on surveillance video at Macy’s in Parma, OH, a suburb west of Cleveland. Amina Frye and the children entered Macy’s and were seen on surveillance cameras stealing merchandise. When store security went to nab the children, the adults entered the store and a fight began as the ring tried to flee to their waiting vehicle, a 2009 Chevy Suburban. (Another Macy’s in the Cleveland area had informed all the stores to watch for the gang after being hit the day prior.)
After Burton and his mother freed the children and their mother, the five thieves fled, yet only made it a short distance as police cars shut down all escape routes. During a search of the Suburban, police documented stolen computers, credit cards, and gift cards. Four Chicagoans have thus far been identified as possible  victims.

If you feel that you, or your place of business, are victims of shoplifting, call U-Spy Store for the latest video surveillance equipment. Whether your needs require a two camera system or something all-encompassing, we’ll meet or surpass your security requirements. Our number is 773-529-2779, or send us an email.

Crime Does Not Discriminate: Chicago PD’s #3 Man is Burglarized

How would you like to find out via the news that the house you burgled last night happens to be that of a Chicago Police Officer? To a thief, I think that this would be rather, er, trying. In the same situation, what would you do if you found out the Police Officer was actually a CPD Official, namely Deputy Superintendent Steve Peterson, two steps down from the top position at the Chicago Police Department?

If it were me, I’d move. Forever. I understand that out of fairness, all cases should be treated with equal weight, but we are all human; thus, crime hits us harder if we, or those close to us,  are the victims. People…like our boss. Even more unfortunate for the crooks is the fact that Peterson is in-charge of the detective’s division… Do you think that they’ll be motivated to solve this case?

A note to those trafficking in stolen goods: Avoid 50-inch flat screen TVs and .357 Magnums like H1N1…they’re two items reported missing from Peterson’s home.

U-Spy Store has worked with law enforcement on numerous investigations over our twenty-plus years, and THE best lesson we’ve learned is: Crime Never Discriminates, it is an equal opportunity destroyer. Thus, we always advise our clients that it’s better to be prepared for the worst and hope for the best;  in the long-run, it saves time, money, and, at times, lives.

If you need recommendations on increasing security at your home or place of business, please do not hesitate to give us a call. We provide free-estimates and carry a variety of home/business protection equipment. Our phone number is 773-529-2779. Or, feel free to drop us an Email

“Coplifter” Gets Nabbed for Theft

The dark underbelly of crime is a malevolent, violent world which most have never witnessed; unless, of course, they live their lives in that world. Most, if not all, illegal activities stem from the same place. From the 50,000 foot view, all of the pieces interlock to form a “hierarchy” of criminal activities.

Think of it this way: at the bottom end, the grifters, petty thieves, and car burglars, usually younger and less experienced, often amusing, place. Some crimes, after being committed, leave us scratching our heads and wondering, “What were they thinking?” As we’ve alluded to before, video surveillance is being used on an increasing basis to not only deter or document criminal activities, but as a means of stretching available resources, doing “more” with “less.” Where businesses often had a security team, they are now able to have strategically placed security personnel that, with radios and camera surveillance, can cover a larger area in a more effective and efficient manner.

A ruined career for a hundred or so bucks. Crime obviously does not pay. Although the officer denied the charges, the Judge stated that the games ‘certainly left the site’ after watching the CCTV evidence. Video doesn’t lie.

If you need to set up video surveillance, please let us know. U-Spy has been in the surveillance field for 20 years and can answer any questions you might have. Email us, at USpy Store,  or give us a call at (773) 529-2779.