The fraudster, Sharron Laverne Parrish Jr, would rack up thousands of dollars in a single transaction at an Apple store. When his debit card was denied, he would act surprised, and pretend call his bank assuring the clerk the funds were available. Eventually, he would give the Apple store employee a fake authorization code into the credit card reader. Since the override code is not actually unique, and any code will work, the transaction goes through and the culprit walks out of the store without paying anything.
"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."
Parrish reportedly hit stores across Florida, a Secret Service criminal complaint notes. In fact, he did this scam known as a 'forced sale' 42 times. He is currently held without bail in Pinellas County Jail.
To prevent such a scam, the store clerk should be the one who calls the bank for an override code, but clearly that's not what happened at these Apple stores. A spokeswoman for Apple in Cupertino declined to say if the company has changed any policies at its retail stores.