Apple Retail Out Almost $310K in Scam, Suspect Arrested in Florida

Apple lost US$309,768 in merchandise out of its retail stores in 16 states thanks to Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr. and a debit card scam. Authorities have arrested Mr. Parrish, and thanks to his clever social engineering, Apple will likely be left holding the bill.

Apple retail stores lost over $309K in debit card scamApple retail stores lost over $309K in debit card scam

Mr. Parrish tricked Apple employees into letting him walk out of the store without paying by using a forced code scam, according to The Tampa Bay Times.

The scam works by presenting a debit card for payment that's declined. The suspect then insists there's a mistake and acts like they're calling their bank to get an override code to authorize the transaction. The suspect gives the retailer a fake authorization code that lets the transaction complete, and they head out the door without really paying.

There isn't a verification process for the authorization code, so the suspect can make one up without worrying about being denied, but that's only part of making the scam work. It also relies on retailers letting customers make the bank call instead of handling it themselves, and store employees trusting the suspect.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in New Jersey said,

It does not actually matter what code the merchant types into the terminal. Any combination of digits will override the denial. 

In this case, that's exactly what happened and Mr. Parrish was able to make off with thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from Apple stores. Since there weren't any banks involved with the scam, Apple won't be able to recover its losses unless the stolen merchandise is returned.

Mr. Parrish was arrested by Federal agents and has been charged with wire fraud.