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How one fraudster bought $309K worth of Apple products without paying a single penny

Apple Forced Code Wire Fraud

One Apple fan ran a clever con in many Apple retail stores across the U.S., buying products worth $309,768 over 42 purchases made in 16 different states since December 2012, ComputerWorld reports, without actually having the money to pay for them. 24-year-old Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr. has been charged with wire fraud and the Secret Service claims that he tricked Apple retail staff into accepting purchases made with credit and/or debit cards that didn’t have any funds by using a clever, simple financial trick.

The trick in question — which is commonly referred to as “forced sale,” “forced post” or “forced code” — allows customers whose cards are declined in a store to still make the purchase. All the merchant has to do to go forward with the sale is to call in the bank that issued the card and ask for a special authorization code, creating a record of that override.

When his cards were declined in Apple stores, Parrish pretended to talk to his bank and offered Apple clerk such authorization codes that were not actually real. However, he was able to offer precise numerical codes when it comes to the number of digits they contained.

Parrish managed to “buy” goods worth thousands of dollars using this trick, convincing retail staff in most cases to go forward with the purchases. In only seven cases he either backed down or the Apple employees decided not to go through with the sale even after the override code had been offered. This saved Apple $51,000 in additional losses.

While it’s not clear what Parrish did with the Apple goods he purchased – he averaged purchases of more than $7,200 per store – it’s Apple that’s footing the bill for this particular financial issue, as the company was the one to force the sale by accepting a bogus code.

“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,” Secret Service agent Bryan Halliwell, who filed the complaint against Parrish, wrote.

In addition to Apple stores, Parrish also tried to defraud a car rental company and a hotel in Seattle.

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he closely follows the events in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises. Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.