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Surveillance expert Michael Reingold discusses entertainment venue scams

Surveillance expert Michael Reingold discusses entertainment venue scams
Surveillance expert Michael Reingold discusses entertainment venue scams
Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images

In a world where music festivals and large entertainment venues offer a great experience, they also create an environment for nefarious activity. In recent years new technology has allowed for more surveillance at these events but loss prevention expert Michael Reingold explains that there is only so much a camera can catch. “You could have a venue wired with hundreds of cameras but when it comes to the right angle and really tracking a person, you need a trained eye that knows what to look for.”

Reingold obtained his extensive experience with surveillance when he worked as a District Manager in a movie theater chain. He recalls the days when scams were much less elaborate as he paints a picture of movie theater workers re-selling tickets and stealing stock from the storage rooms. Then there are the scams that never occur to the average patron. “Rehashing or reselling cups is another scam. An industrious movie theater employee can make thousands.”

Loss prevention experts often learn about a scam by going undercover in these large entertainment venues in hopes of earning the trust of the employees. In one instance, Michael Reingold received a tip that an employee was stealing autographed memorabilia from a sports venue. Instead of sticking to strict surveillance, Reingold established business cards for a fictitious company and posed as a collector who was in search of adding to his collection in order to catch the employee in the act.

Stealing and scams are prevalent in all different types of entertainment venues because of the sheer number of patrons. With so much movement and cash flow, it’s easy to understand how these environments attract scam artists.

Some of the more common scams involve stealing stock from the storage rooms but the more advanced scams come in the form of credit card scanning. “It could be as simple as watching a person swipe a customer’s credit card. New technology has created smaller devices that are capable of obtaining all of a customer’s credit card info in less than a second. For instance, in a large sports venue where merchandise is being purchased left and right, the cashier simply palms the small credit card reader and scans the customer’s card twice; once to pay for the merchandise and another time to steal the information. The customer walks away without ever knowing that they’ve handed over their information. These are the types of things that security cameras don’t always catch.”

In these entertainment venues, women often leave their handbags on the seat next to them to avoid having to place it on the ground. Reingold warns women that it’s best to keep their bags in their laps. “Thieves have mastered the art of pulling a handbag through a slit in the seat with ease. They’re capable of grabbing the handbag, stealing the money or information and getting away from the area before the woman notices that the handbag has hit the ground. Then the women simply pick up the bag, assuming that it simply fell off of the seat. “

In recent years, excessive pickpockets and scam artists have forced certain venues to drastically increase their surveillance budget. In the same way that technology advancements have allowed these large venues to beef up their security, those same advancements have allowed scam artists to develop more elaborate scams. In recent years, the world’s most popular museum, the Louvre, had to shut down after employees walked off the job in protest of what they described as an aggressive pickpocket operation.

According to Michael Reingold and other loss prevention experts, there are plenty of things patrons; concertgoers and tourists can do to protect themselves. For instance, the “crush and grab” often occurs when a scammer bumps into someone and attempts to lift an item at the same time. Spilling something on someone and pretending to clean it up is also a trick that scammers often use to distract an unknowing tourist. It's important to remain aware of your surroundings and to take extra precautions to keep your valuables protected.