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Paul Manafort's iPod, ex-Apple employee's $243K embezzlement, and other news from the Apple crime blotter

AppleInsider rounds up iPhone theft stories from Italy to the Philippines, the Apple Store habits of grifter Anna Delvey, and more from the world of Apple-related crime.

Apple crime handcuffs



Victoria's Secret purchases lead to former Apple assistant's embezzlement conviction, three-year sentence



A onetime administrative assistant for Apple has been convicted on embezzlement charges, after she was found to have used her company credit card to make six figures worth of unauthorized purchases, many of which were at Victoria's Secret. According to Fox News, 42-year-old Toni Ann Branca pled guilty to second-degree theft by deception, and was caught after she was found to have submitted duplicate requests for reimbursement, using the extra cash for personal spending at the lingerie retailer as well as Gucci and Louis Vuitton.

Branca, whose Apple job consisted of scheduling and making travel arrangements, was sentenced to three years in prison.

Thieves slam into Houston Apple Store



A group of thieves in a stolen truck slammed into the front doors of an Apple Store in Houston's Highland Village at 3:23 a.m. on Thursday and grabbed various items. According to the Houston Chronicle, among the items the thieves stole were inoperable display merchandise.

iPhone purchase turned out to be a box of rocks



In a story straight out of a Charlie Brown cartoon, a Tennessee man tried to buy a pair of iPhones through a third-party app, and one of the boxes turned out to contain a sock full of rocks, while the other had a heavy lock. According to Fox 13 in Memphis, the man had arranged to buy an iPhone 8 and X for $930 on the "Let Go" app, but got a nasty surprise when he opened the box.

He filed a police report but no arrests have been made.

FBI took more than 20 Apple devices from Paul Manafort



Paul Manafort, the indicted former campaign manager for President Trump, was in the news this week after he was accused of witness tampering. Before that occurred, it was reported that when the FBI raided Manafort's condo, investigators had seized a long list of electronic devices, including more than 20 Apple products.

The list of hardware included 5 iPhones, an iMac, a MacBook Air, 7 iPods, and 2 iPad Minis. According to national security blog Empty Wheel, Manafort claimed in a filing that the iPods could not have possibly contained any evidence, but blog author Marcy Wheeler stated that the warrant allowed for the seizure of "storage media," which includes iPods.

Accused grifter "Anna Delvey" spent ill-gotten gains at Apple Store



Anna Sorokin, the alleged grifter who attempted to infiltrate New York high society under the name "Anna Delvey," spent some of the money she acquired through a complex web of financial machinations at a New York Apple Store. According to Vanity Fair, Sorokin's purchases on an Apple Store run prior to meeting with the author included a pair of new iPhones — "one for her international number and one for a new local number."

Lawmaker in Philippines accuses labor leader of stealing iPhone X



A legislator in the Philippines, Tom Villarin, has filed charges against labor leader Jacinto Paras, claiming Paras stole his iPhone X during a government hearing. According to ABS-CBN News in Manila, Paras offered Villarin a power bank, but then took the phone after Villarin left.

Paras denies the theft but claims he "may have accidentally taken Villarin's phone together with his own things." Ironically Paras, during a past term in the legislature in 2001, was once accused of being part of a group that reportedly received bribes from major cellular networks.

Ellen Pompeo uses Find My iPhone to retrieve her phone in Italy



Ellen Pompeo, the actress from Grey's Anatomy, used Find My iPhone to retrieve her stolen purse on a recent vacation to Florence, Italy, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"I was tracking my phone and chasing you down," she wrote on Instagram following the successful redemption of the purse. "I am nice but lets not forget my heritage... NAPOLITANO.... hai furtuno y io hai destine [You have fortune, I have destiny]"

Find My iPhone stops a forced marriage



In a much less light-hearted use of the location feature, a teenaged girl in the U.K. used Find My iPhone to help her boyfriend rescue her from a forced marriage in Bangladesh. The Daily Telegraph reported that the unnamed girl was tricked by her parents into traveling to Bangladesh in order to marry a cousin, so the cousin could obtain a British visa.

The girl's boyfriend in the U.K. found her location and alerted the authorities, who intervened to rescue the young woman. This led to a recent trial, where the parents were convicted of forced marriage and using violence or a form of coercion.

Find My iPhone solves theft at Ball State



Police at Ball State University in Indiana were able to use Find My iPhone to track and recover an iPhone that had been nabbed from a drawer in an unlocked office. Ball State Daily reported that the location feature led police to a 56-year-old Muncie man, who was charged with burglary, theft and resisting law enforcement, as well as a pair of outstanding warrants.

$60K in merchandise stolen from Mac Guys store



A break-in at the Mac Guys speciality store in La Crosse, Wisc., resulted in the theft of $60,000 worth of Macs and iPads. According to the The La Crosse Tribune, the 3 a.m. theft only took two minutes, and parts of the robbery were captured on security cameras.

Man accused of stealing iPad from City Hall



A California man was arrested last month after police found him passed out in his car, with an iPad that had been stolen days earlier from Ventura City Hall found among his possessions. According to Ventura City Star, the 53-year-old was arrested on suspicion of felony possession of stolen property.

iPhone stolen from car in Chicago traffic



Traffic on Chicago's Michigan Avenue went from bad to worse last week, when a thief reportedly grabbed an iPhone from a woman's bare hands as she sat in her car at a red light. According to Fox 32 in Chicago, the thief approached from behind, grabbed the iPhone and ran straight downstairs to a train station.

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