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J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven among companies targeted in massive hacking scheme

BY Marianne Wilson

New York — Five individuals have been charged with running a sophisticated, worldwide hacking organization that the U.S. Department of Justice called the largest hacking and data breach scheme ever prosecuted in the United States. The victims in the scheme included such retailers as J.C. Penney, 7-Eleven Inc., Carrefour and Hannaford Brothers Co.

A federal indictment made public Thursday in New Jersey charges five men — four Russian nationals and a Ukrainian — in the scheme that, over the course of seven years, targeted major corporate networks and stole more than 160 million credit-card numbers. All five are charged with taking part in a computer hacking conspiracy and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. The four Russian nationals are also charged with multiple counts of unauthorized computer access and wire fraud.

Other companies that were victimized included electronic stock exchange Nasdaq, JetBlue, Heartland Payment Systems Inc. and the Belgium bank Dexia Bank Belgium.

The individuals who purchased the credit and debit card numbers and associated data from the hacking organization resold them through online forums or directly to others known as “cashers,” according to the indictment, with U.S. credit card numbers selling for about $10 each; Canadian numbers were $15 and European ones $50.

The data was stored on computer servers all over the world, including in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Illinois, Latvia, the Netherlands, Bahamas, Ukraine, Panama and Germany, the Associated Press said.

The cashers would encode the information onto the magnetic strips of blank plastic cards and cash out the value, by either withdrawing money from ATMs in the case of debit cards, or running up charges and purchasing goods in the case of credit cards.

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Private investment firm to acquire Alco Stores

BY Marianne Wilson

Abilene, Kan. — Alco Stores Inc. has entered into an agreement to be acquired by private investment firm Argonne Capital Group LLC.

The Atlanta-based Argonne will acquire all the outstanding share of Alco’s common stock for $14 per share in cash. The proposed transaction, expected to close later year, would total about $47 million.

Alco’s board of directors has unanimously approved the merger agreement and is recommending that shareholders approve it.

"ALCO looks forward to partnering with Argonne, and we believe the support they will provide will accelerate the Company’s plans for sustained growth,” said Alco CEO Rich Wilson.

Alco, formerly known as Duckwall-Alco, is in the process of moving its headquarters from Abilene, Kan., to the Dallas suburb of Coppell. The company has 213 stores, mostly in small towns, in 23 states selling home furnishings, outdoor products, electronics sporting goods and clothing.

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Weather Trends: August 2013

BY CSA STAFF

WTI expects that retail August 2013 will be the coolest in four years for the nation as a whole. Temperatures will trend cooler than last year in parts of the Northeast and in the western half of the nation, while temperatures will trend warmer in the Southeast and Ohio Valley. The Plains states and Rocky Mountains will see increased precipitation this year, while the Southwest and Southeast will trend drier than last year. August is expected to be another active month for tropical systems, especially during the latter part of the month. Cooler weather in the West and in parts of the Northeast will be favorable for back-to-school categories, while warmer weather in the Southeast will boost demand for summer consumables like cold beverages and charcoal. Wetter weather in the Plains and Rockies will be beneficial for back-to-school shopping as consumers will tend to be less distracted by outdoor leisure activities and will spend more time indoors either shopping or watching TV with product ads reaching a larger audience.

Weather Trends International offers year-ahead business weather forecasts and intelligence to hundreds of major retailers, suppliers, and we also support many commodity/energy traders. We offer an unparalleled competitive advantage by helping our clients proactively plan for the weather up to a year in advance. For more information on what we can do for you, please contact Jack Grum [email protected] or call 610-807-0118.

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