In a rather offbeat and somewhat bizarre crime story, a Tampa Bay man was arrested earlier this month after managing to scam Apple out of $309,768.
According to the Tampa Bay Times, 24-year old Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr. frequented Apple retail stores 42 times across a number of states where he purchased thousands of dollars worth of Apple products. When it came time to foot the bill at checkout, Parrish handed over a debit card with insufficient funds. Upon being informed that his card was rejected, Parrish protested and subsequently provided Apple retail employees with what appeared to be a valid override code.
The scam was made possible through a practice known as a "forced sale," "forced post" or "forced code."
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."
Only in this case, it wasn't Apple who called the card issuer. Apple retail employees, the report explains, should have sought out the override codes themselves rather than relying on a customer to supply them with one. As a result, Apple and not the bank will likely be on the hook for the losses.
The 8-page criminal complaint can be viewed below.