Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr., 24, allegedly scammed Apple not once, but 42 times, according to Tampa Bay Times’ Patty Ryan.
According to a Secret Service criminal complaint, filed by special agent Bryan Halliwell and investigators associated with Apple and Chase Bank, Parrish allegedly tricked Apple Store employees in 16 states starting around December 2012 into accepting fake authorization codes to purchase $309,768 worth of Apple goods.
Parrish, who is a resident of River Grove in east Tampa, Florida, is also accused of hitting several stores in his home state, including Orlando, Boca Raton, Wellington, and the Brandon location twice.
The authorization code scam is breathtakingly simple.
Here’s how it works: Parrish allegedly visited Apple Stores and tried to buy products with four different debit cards, which were all closed by his respective financial institutions. When his debit card was inevitably declined by the Apple Store, he would protest and offer to call his bank — except, he wasn’t really calling his bank.
So, the complaint says, he would offer the Apple Store employees a fake authorization code with a certain number of digits, which is normally provided by credit card issuers to create a record of the credit or debit override. (Business Insider, like the Tampa Bay Times, refuses to publish the number of digits “so as not to inspire anyone.”)
But that’s the problem with this system: as long as the number of digits is correct, the override code itself doesn’t matter.
“It does not actually matter what code the merchant types into the terminal,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey said publicly after a similar case occurred there in February. “Any combination of digits will override the denial.”