Tampa man accused of scamming Apple out of $309,768

“A man ran up a $7,753.22 bill at an Apple store,” Patty Ryan reports for The Tampa Bay Times. “When his debit card was declined, he pretended to call his bank. He gave the store clerk a fake authorization code to punch into the card reader.”

“And that’s how the man, 24-year-old Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr. of Tampa, scammed one of the biggest high-tech companies in the world — not once but 42 times — totaling $309,768, according to federal court records,” Ryan reports. “A Secret Service criminal complaint charges Parrish with wire fraud, alleging that he tricked Apple clerks in 16 states into accepting meaningless override codes.”

“Parrish, who lists a home address in the River Grove area of east Tampa, was held without bail in the Pinellas County Jail,” Ryan reports. “The scam was made possible through a practice known as a ‘forced sale,’ ‘forced post’ or ‘forced code.'”

Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr. (Photo: Pinellas County Sheriff's Office)
Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr.
(Photo: Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office)
“A credit or debit card gets declined, a customer protests that funds should be available and a merchant calls the card issuer, looking for authorization to proceed. If the issuer approves, the merchant gets an authorization code, creating a record of the override. But that code isn’t special. ‘It does not actually matter what code the merchant types into the terminal,’ the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey stated publicly in February after a similar case there. ‘Any combination of digits will override the denial.'”

MacDailyNews Take: Seems like a “system” that’s ripe for improvement. Gee, wonder which company could fix this?

“The New Jersey case led to a three-year prison sentence for Temeshia McDonald, 29, who defrauded Victoria’s Secret, Banana Republic and other retailers out of $557,690. She was ordered to pay restitution,” Ryan reports. “Merchants can wind up liable for charges if they override a denial. That was the case with Parrish’s transaction at the Apple store in Brandon on Jan. 18, 2013, according to the court record. ‘Because Apple employees overrode the initial declination against the instructions of Chase Bank, Apple — not the financial institution — suffered the loss as a result of this fraudulent transaction,’ agent Halliwell wrote.”

Read more in the full article here.

46 Comments

        1. I am not a racist in any way, just stating the facts.

          Liberals in America have destroyed the black family.

          They enacted programs designed to discourage marriage by removing the need for a male provider by encouraging state dependence (to lock up votes, to which they’ve succeeded beyond their wildest dreams – 95%), encourage easy abortions (Sharron escaped the vacuum, but gets his place in the system), and creating entire generations of helpless, trouble-causing, non-productive criminals who destroy the rest of the country’s quality of life and impede others’ pursuit of happiness.

          Blacks have voted for Democrats 95% of the time for the past 50 years. Where has it gotten them? Jail for the males. Rampant abortions. Dependent females. Hopeless children. Lost generations. Abject failure.

          I am a black man who learned early on the Think Different. That’s why I’m alive, very successful, and a fiscal and social conservative.

          1. Unfortunately, trying to get Black Americans to Think Different is nearly impossible due to public educational deficiencies. Many of these lockstep Democrat voters do not know they are voting against their own interest. To them it is inconceivable that the GOP, who strive to create a climate that would free them to help themselves, are the good guys, and those who want to proffer subsistence handouts forever are the one who have enslaved and harmed and continue to enslave and harm them irreparably.

            Blacks voted 96% for Obama. Among Black voters, Obama’s job approval is an irrational 86%. Labor-force-participation rate thus fell from 65.7 percent in January 2009 to 62.8 percent last month, disengagement last witnessed in March 1978 (Carter administration). Black food stamp recipients stood at 7,393,000 when Obama arrived in Jan. 2009. It was up to 10,955,000 in 2012 (total population: 32,889,000 in 2009 to 46,022,000 in 2012). Though black unemployment, at the end of G.W. Bush administration, had broken a long-held pattern of being twice that of white unemployment, it has returned to its former trend under Obama. Black teens continue to suffer under the economic policies of Barack Obama. The unemployment rate among black youth is at 38%. This number is staggeringly higher than the overall teen unemployment rate of 21%.

            Until Black Americans stop tragically voting against their own interests, manipulated by Dem/Lib/Prog race baiters and shameless race-manipulating filth like Al Sharpten/Jesse Jackson, Blacks will continue to fare poorly in the U.S.A.

            1. You sir, are tragically racist. People of all races are capable of committing crimes. This also has nothing to do with politics, as, the banks, Apple, the Apple Store or the method for determining the outcome of the transaction are affiliated with a political agenda or political party or political POV.

              Besides, I don’t think you exist anyway.

            2. Where did I say that people of all races weren’t capable of committing crimes? The answer, Mr. Strawman, is: I didn’t.

              Blacks voting in lockstep for any party is detrimental to their own interests. They are ignored and taken for granted. Guaranteed Dem votes regardless, so there’s no need to be paid any attention to by either party. This much should be obvious, even to someone who’s obviously as challenged in the reading comprehension department as you.

              Blacks, as with everyone else, would be far, far better off with smaller government, fewer handouts and dependency, and much more encouragement to form nuclear families and to work hard to achieve their dreams.

            3. Really? So a black criminal scams a Point Of Sale system, and its about Obama, welfare, and an entire race not knowing how to work hard?
              So when a white criminal shoots up a school of kids or scams investors of their life savings… what are the talking points then?

          2. “I am not a racist in any way, just stating the facts.”

            BS! Your comment, quoted below, was wholly racist, based entirely on a stereotypical assumption of this man’s family and utterly lacking in any facts whatsoever!

            And if you are a black man as you later state, then in my opinion you are the worst sort of racist… one who would perpetuate the negative stereotyping of your own race.

            A**!

            You said:
            “Yeah, right, as if Sharron Laverne Parrish, Sr. even stuck around for the unfortunate birth of this criminal.”

        2. Ixol Phaane, “…You racist Fsck.…” where did you come out with that comment? By calling him that you display you do not know the meaning of racist. Also, how can you tell he is racist? You are either incredibly stupid, or incredibly ignorant, either way your comment is very unacceptable. Suggestion, purchase a dictionary then use it.

          Cordially

    1. He probably is.

      “But that code isn’t special. ‘It does not actually matter what code the merchant types into the terminal…”

      Ummm…is that any way to run a railroad?

    1. It is not racist to want black Americans to have all the potential success any other American has. Nor is it racist to look at the history and come to the conclusion that liberal condescension has undermined fabric of the black family and the confidence that achievement is within their grasp without the crutch of a paternal big government. It may be an opinion you do not share, but it is not racist. Let big government do the things to insure a level playing field, and quit corralling huge blocks of our populace as perpetual victims with the message that “You can’t do it without our help.”

    2. Many blacks erroneously believe the GOP consists of rich racist white people. In reality, the GOP was founded to free blacks. Only five years after slavery, there were black congressmen, all Republicans. The KKK, Jim Crow laws, segregation, and denying blacks the right to vote where all birthed by Democrats.

      Even today, Democrats are still “keeping blacks in their place” — telling them they need lowered standards, affirmative action, special programs, and freebies to succeed. Democrats constantly send blacks the message they are not as smart was whites. For example, Democrats say having to show ID when voting disenfranchises blacks. This is merely a tactic by which the Democrats implement voter fraud. However, in the process, they are saying blacks are too stupid to find their way to the DMV or other places to acquire proper ID. This is just one example of numerous ways Democrats tell blacks they are inferior and need Democrats’ help to succeed.

      Republicans deal with blacks respectfully, as equals. Democrats thrive on blacks believing themselves to be victims, despite being blessed to be born in the greatest land of opportunity on the planet. Foreigners are trying to get to America in cardboard boats held together with duct tape. Democrats punish and hate blacks who compete with whites and succeed without Democrat lowered standards and involvement.

      While sold as compassion and “fairness,” Democrat programs are always about making as many people as possible dependent on government to secure/buy votes. In the long run, all Democrat policies and programs hurt people!

      In reality, history confirms that the black community has been sleeping with the enemy for years by monolithically voting Democrat. News flash, black voters: the Democrats “ain’t” your friends.

      Every program which demeans and stifles blacks has come and continues to come from the Democrats. Republicans continue to be the party extremely supportive of black individuality, the party full of nurturers of black entrepreneurial success.

      Democrats still want to keep blacks on their plantation of needing government handouts — thus keeping blacks dependent on government, thus keeping blacks voting for Democrats, who promise to give them stuff via programs. To make their scam work, Democrats also tell blacks that Republicans are burning the midnight oil planning ways to “keep them down.” Thus, you blacks need us Democrats to keep evil rich white Republicans off your backs.

      In a nutshell, blacks are being played by the Democrats. So you can imagine my frustration and impatience with ignorant knuckleheads who trash me for being a Republican. I am working to liberate my people — to ensure that they be treated with dignity and respect, and not as needy, inferior supplicants.

      When I became supervisor of my mostly white department at a TV station, rather than celebrating me and my achievement, my liberal and Democrat friends demeaned my achievement by saying I got the job due to affirmative action. Wrong. I got the job because I proved myself most qualified.

      As a singer and speaker, I have attended over three hundred Tea Parties nationwide, on five Tea Party Express national bus tours. I have been warmly embraced by the mostly white audiences because we share a love for America and are opposed to socialism. These Tea Party folks are not opposing Obama’s skin color. They are opposing his agenda.

      A Congressional Black Caucus member actually said the white folks at the Tea Parties want to “see blacks hanging from trees.” Knowing what I know from my personal experience, the Caucus member’s statement is irresponsible, absurd, shameful, and divisively evil — all about ginning up racial hate and securing votes for Obama. Despicable!

      Now, I know some blacks who are stuck on stupid and hate who want to believe otherwise. So be it. All I ask is that before you write me off as an Uncle Tom traitor, check your facts. And quite frankly, I do not care what anyone thinks of me, because I know I am on the Lord’s side. God bless.

      Lloyd Marcus, proud unhyphenated American

      1. Beautiful wordcraft, my friend. You have earned all that you have achieved, including my deepest respect. Long may you live and prosper. Thank you for having the guts to defy the stereotypes and for bluntly writing the facts.

    1. It takes a few ‘holes’ to get into a situation as idiotic as this one.
      – Bad management.
      – Bad clerk.
      – Bad crook.
      – Bad credit/debit ‘authorization’ system design, implementation and verification. Incredibly bad.

      A conspiracy of ‘holes’.

  1. Sure are a lot of buttheads on this thread today (apologies to those who aren’t). Please discuss the article and keep away from racial descriptions and governmental institutions neither of which is germaine to this story. These are your own pet peeves which some (read f2014-t2016) love to insert wherever possible. You are getting monotonous and repetitive. Apple store managers and other store managers deserve to get their collective arses kicked. If someone’s credit is denied, if the customer calls the bank, the store should talk to the bank directly. Trusting a customer as seen in the article with ‘bad credit’ is bad business practice and caution should be exercised.

    1. It’s just guy (in a tri-corner hat with tea bags stapled to it, no doubt) pretending to be multiple people and having a conversation with himself.

  2. Idiotic:

    But that code isn’t special. ‘It does not actually matter what code the merchant types into the terminal”

    Please shoot whatever idiot came up with this deliberate override of purchase security. Idiotic beyond comprehension. And of course, any company that knowingly allows such an idiotic security override is complicit. If that includes Apple, then too bad.

    When his debit card was declined, he pretended to call his bank…

    THIS is Apple’s fault, as simple as that. You never let the customer call the bank. The clerk, or better yet the shop manager, calls the bank. No exceptions.

    The most clear, simple and just solution is to refuse the sale and ask the customer to please sort out their problem with the card provider, asking them to please return at that time. Apologize that there is nothing more they can offer to the customer. Obviously, be as kind and understanding as is humanly possible. There is never an excuse to be disrespectful to a customer, even an hardened criminal like this scum. Just keep in mind that it’s not any shop’s responsibility to maintain or sort out a customer’s credit or debit problems, obviously.

    [I can hardly wait to see what flames I get for the above sensible response. What an assortment of haters and lunatics we have had around here this month. It must be the summer heat of the northern hemisphere.] (o_O) (x_X) (@_@)

      1. There are also theories of con-artist methods for effectively hypnotizing certain people into accepting nearly anything the con-artist says. Such spookiness is well outside my scope of experience…

        [Except I was able to hypnotize one of my little brothers, heh, with a pair of ‘Hypno-Glasses’ that featured a spiraling effect when tilted. I never tried that again!]

      2. The guy visited a lot of stores and I bet a lot of clerks followed correct procedure. At these stores he just left empty handed. It’s a pretty good scam because if it doesn’t work, you simply walk away and try again somewhere else or at the same store another time with a different clerk. Wonder what his success/failure ratio was?

    1. And you have the exact problem. Angry, large black man facing off with geeky shop clerk who doesn’t know he (or she) is in control and needs to stay there. Or Apple needs to decline to use override codes as a matter of policy, so the clerk will have no ability to succumb to pressure.

      But you do notice that the system is set up so that the financial institution is always protected. Funny how that works out.

      1. But of course! The ever blameless financial sector. Much as I am a fan of positive, functional capitalism… Sometimes I wish I could take my lead pipe and sneak up on certain parasitic dickheads on Wallnut Street and…

        …hand them a pamphlet about the virtues of spinach. 😉

        1. By and large, the denizens of Wall Street could benefit from more dietary fiber. What kind of system relies on a random code that only has to have the right number of digits for protection? They are clearly full of something.

  3. Political and social arguments aside, I read the article and wondered how Apple Store (or for that matter, ANY retail merchant) employees would accept an override code from a customer. Is that not a red flag by itself? I would think that standard procedure would be for the store employee, NOT the customer, to investigate the card used in the transaction, and if necessary, obtain an override code from the issuing bank.

    I can only imagine that a fraudulent crime of this type (likely one attempted by criminals of all racial backgrounds) has to be a known scam to retailers, banks, credit card clearinghouses and fraud detection technology companies such as FICO. It’s amazing that Apple Store employees were not trained on a matter such as this, and by now, I’m sure they are.

    I previously worked for FICO, and a company they acquired by the name of HNC Software. HNC developed the first neural network predictive model, advanced artificial intelligence software used to detect credit card fraud. Today, it’s used to protect 85% of all credit cards worldwide from fraud. The interesting feature of a predictive fraud model is that it can learn newly created fraud scams by itself, and quickly.

    My hunch is that the fraud detection software may have spotted the crime first. Sadly, criminals are an ambitious and clever bunch. And every day, a new scam is hatched. It’s a nonstop battle to keep up. But like the criminal outlined in the article above, usually their greed, foolishness to try the same scam repeatedly and overconfidence that they won’t be caught is what proves to be their undoing.

    It’s why I am fascinated on how advanced software technology is helping retailers like Apple combat the countless numbers of attempted hacks and crimes pointed that the company worldwide every day. Whether it’s someone trying to dupe an Apple Store employee, or a gang of criminal hackers, or an organized military hacking unit, Apple has its hands full. So if advanced technology can help fight off the assault of crime, I salute the software and predictive modeling geniuses at companies like FICO for fighting the good fight.

    1. This situation reminds me that this is still going on:

      Apple Faces Class-Action Suit for Unpaid Wages

      We know full well that some berzerker crybabies have been involved in the above lawsuit. But when it gets to the level of a class action lawsuit, there has to be some incredibly bad management at particular Apple stores going on. I have to wonder if this is a lingering ghost of the John Browett fiasco.

      Bad management: Never acceptable.

    2. “Political and social arguments aside, I read the article and wondered how Apple Store (or for that matter, ANY retail merchant) employees would accept an override code from a customer.”

      It may have been more complex than that. A similar scam can be pulled off by asking the retailer to call the card in. In fact, often when a card is declined it automatically says to call it in or company policy is to call it in. Once the call is made sometimes the processor will ask to speak to the customer, but even if they don’t, the customer can ask to speak to them. When they do, they hang up, call a partner in crime and have that person get back on the phone with the retailer saying that they’re the supervisor and are providing an approval code.

      1. Good point. A lot of scamming and hacking is achieved not by technology, but by social engineering. Kevin Mitnick, a famous hacker (who paid for his crimes with prison, and now is a “white hat” professionally educating companies and government agencies on how to protect against the very hacks and tricks he used), often turned to social engineering to get inside corporations. In some cases, Mitnick would call utility companies or corporations pretending to be in their IT department, asking for help to recover a lost password. Using charm and guile, he often tricked people into letting down their guard. Once he got that one bit of information, he went to work.

        As you noted, a clever criminal often uses slight of hand or social engineering to scam his way. It would not be surprising if the accused criminal profiled in the article did work with an accomplice.

        Being burned makes a retailer such as Apple more vigilant, and hopefully, this sort of scam will be quickly flagged. If not at the source, unusual activity on a credit card is immediately noticed by fraud detection predictive models used by credit card issuers, and hopefully, that would quickly put a stop to any two-bit criminal trying this scam.

        Kudos to you for pointing out how this scam may have worked.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.