Police say technology helps but better be careful to avoid phone grabs and drain robberies

While technical precautions can help protect revellers from theft of their phones and keep their cash apps accessible when they’re out of town, the most effective deterrent, those who watch the phenomenon most closely, say, is old-fashioned vigilance.

Twin Cities law enforcement officers, cash app operators and banks say identity protection tools are in place, but if they don’t want to imagine dozens of thieves roaming downtown Minneapolis and elsewhere for months before being caught arrested and charged with a felony.

Law enforcement said the street bandits used multiple forms of persuasion, sometimes including violence, to separate unsuspecting and often intoxicated victims from their phones before draining their trading apps for thousands of dollars.

The criminal charges brought against members of the 12-member gang have proposed a variety of tactics – some simple, some cunning, and some downright violent.

A man hands his cell phone to the person who wants to make a call. Another was asked for his phone number so he could be added to the social media account. His wishes cost him his cell phone and $1,200.

Another victim handed over his mobile phone on a downtown street, and when he demanded its return, he was beaten, left bleeding on the head and left on the sidewalk.

By the time the long-running scheme was busted in September, it had siphoned more than $275,000 from the account, and the phones were often sold to “iPhone Man” before shipping them to overseas buyers, the allegations allege.

“Most of these victims came out of bars and talked to strangers they met on the street,” said State Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Special Agent Donald Cheung, who oversees Minnesota’s financial crimes mission. .”strength. “These people are very cunning in every situation.”

Minneapolis Police Lieutenant Mark Klukow, who lives in the Downtown 1st Ward, said the victims of such crimes “are mostly young adults in their 20s who live alone, not older people or people who are in their teens. female.”

“That’s who we need to communicate with,” he said. “It’s hard for us to find them unless it’s in a TikTok video.”

Excessive drinking can give these young people what he calls “liquid courage,” Klukow said, flushing out their vigilance barriers.

“Women have always understood that walking alone is not safe,” he said.

Instead of waiting for a resurgence of mobile phone grabs and losses, the BCA and police are warning pub patrons to stay vigilant and not be an easy marker for robbers robbing app-based paydays.

“Minnesotans are good-natured and willing to trust and help people,” Zhang said. “[But] We can all be more cautious when talking to strangers, especially handing over your phone. “

Specifically, Klukow said, people going out to have fun should “avoid getting drunk and stay in densely populated areas. If you’re alone, hide your phone and keep your eyes up.”

…you don’t need to hold your phone in your hand. “

Leaving a nightclub without using a smartphone can present a challenge for someone who has already messaged Uber or Lyft for a ride and then tracked the driver’s progress to the pickup point.

Cheung expressed sympathy, but advised iPhone users waiting for a ride to be ready to activate their phone’s SOS mode in case they sense an imminent threat. Samsung’s phones have a similar feature.

To prevent money theft, the app’s spokesperson urged users to employ all available login protections: two-factor authentication, longer and more complex passwords.

However, Venmo users, for example, do not need a password to conduct business.

For victims of robbery through their banking app, Cheung said, “Some people can reverse the transfer if you alert them in time.”

To prevent misuse of stolen photos, contacts and other data, he said, victims “can get in touch with their cell phone provider, and they can send what’s called a kill signal, and you can delete your data.”

Yes, the BCA agent said, “so regularly back up your phone data” on your laptop or somewhere else separate from your phone.

Klukow and Cheung agree that the gang’s arrest appears to have prevented others from starting work where its members left off.

But Krukov said he had been a police officer long enough to know better than to celebrate.

“Robbery has decreased, which is good news,” he said. “But I’m nervous about the market being there. It’s not over yet.”

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