Chicago Apple Stores targeted in traveling fraud scheme

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Six people from New York were arrested and charged last week for their part in an "organized criminal enterprise" that allegedly sought to defraud a Chicago area Apple Store using stolen identities and credit cards.

According to the Lake County sheriff's department, the New Yorkers, ranging in age from 18 to 41, would fly in to O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, rent a car and travel to a nearby Apple Store with intent to attempt a fraudulent purchase, the Chicago Tribune reports.

The suspects were arrested and charged last week after authorities, acting on a tip regarding an impending criminal operation, increased patrols and surveillance at a local Apple Store in Deer Park. More than $10,000 worth of stolen Apple products were recovered as part of law enforcement efforts.

In a statement, the sheriff's office said each of the six people allegedly attempted to commit fraud at the same Deer Park Apple Store over a period of five days. On Wednesday, 21-year-old Nicole E. Cannon tried to make a purchase using stolen identification and credit card information at the location, while Gisselle Diaz, 41, did the same on Friday. On Sunday, Corbett Ortiz, 26, Quinton Ortiz, 18, Melinda Aquino, 21, and Frank Aulet, 20, all allegedly attempted to make fraudulent purchases at the store.

All six face multiple felony charges including burglary, possession of a counterfeit credit card, use of a counterfeit credit card, unlawful use of a fraudulent ID to commit theft, identity theft and forgery.

Thanks to their concentration of high-ticket items, Apple Stores have long been the target of criminals looking to make a quick buck. In June, for example, thieves posing as Apple Store employees stole more than $16,000 worth of iPhones from Apple's SoHo outlet in New York. The imposter gambit has been a popular one as of late. Earlier this year, Apple's Upper West Side store was hit twice in as many months by thieves who made off with dozens of iPhones worth tens of thousand of dollars.