Interview with Keith AubeleMr. Aubele is the leading expert in retail loss prevention. He has over 25 years of experience with some of the best names in retail. As the Senior Director of Loss Prevention at Walmart, Mr. Aubele was responsible for safeguarding over $65 billion in sales. At Home Depot he delivered $600 million to the bottom line through creative and diligent loss prevention technics. Nav1gate is his consultancy where for the past 16 years he has helped a variety of companies reduce their loss while providing for the safety and security of their customers and employees.

Here is what he has to say about stopping counterfeit cash from entering your operation…

Michelle: How did you get your start as a Loss Prevention professional?

Keith: I left the military after a 6-year career and started undergraduate work at Missouri Southern State University. I also worked as a police officer for the Springfield (MO) Police Department. Walmart was in its start-up phase at the time of my graduation and recruited heavily at Missouri Southern. So three days after graduating with my BS in Criminology, I became a newly minted district loss prevention manager for this young startup company called Walmart…of which, my parents who lived in NE Ohio had never heard of!

Michelle: You are a big advocate for the Loss Prevention Research Counsel. Why do you feel that membership is essential for all retail businesses?

Keith: I have been associated with the LPRC since its inception. Read Hayes and I worked on projects together when I was in leadership at Walmart. The LPRC offers an amazing opportunity for retailers, solution providers and industry practitioners. They bring these constituents together to identify tools that will create a safer and more loss resistant retail landscape… and in the process improve the bottom line for everyone. I am a big cheerleader and recruiter for LPRC because I firmly believe their mission is the right mission for our time.

Michelle: There is a trend among the public to not carry cash or to use contactless payments on their cell phones. Do these trends hurt the counterfeit detection business?

Keith: Cash is still KING! People have been touting the death of cash and currency for quite a while, and even though many of you reading this article may not carry as much cash as you used too…there is an entire layer of our population that operates only in cash. Within the past several years I completed a project with the largest retailer in the world helping them identify, select and install cash recyclers into their offices. They did this because the amount of cash they process on a daily basis was costing them hundreds of millions of dollars in fees, processing slowdowns, interest on that money, not to mention the labor of counting that cash. Cash isn’t going away and neither is the counterfeiter.

Michelle: OK. How big is the counterfeiting problem?

Keith: Big. We have more, and more sophisticated, counterfeiters today. Why? Because we still deal in a great amount of cash and bad guys still know that there’s nothing better than printing their own money! Counterfeiting is as strong, if not stronger, than ever. Today, we have clever forgers, organized crime and even foreign countries engaged in the production of fake US currency.

Michelle: Advances in technology have made the need for counterfeit detection greater than ever. What are those advances and how can businesses combat them?

Keith: Even with today’s advancements in technology the most common test is of the paper used in creating a counterfeit bill. A special Marker Pen is an effective and easy tool to use at the point-of-sale to validate paper. Authentic bills have watermarks and a security thread that varies with the bill’s value and these marks are detectable under a certain type of light. Additionally, the ink used is special and can be detected as such with certain tools. These and other deliberate identifiable features in each bill can be detected as authentic or not.

Michelle: Is there a typical person who uses counterfeit money and if so, what do you think is their reasoning behind using the fake bills?

Keith: Let’s face it, criminals are looking for the easiest way to make a buck. Whether it’s stealing product and returning it, fencing it, or selling it on the secondary market, it’s all about making money without investing a lot of money, or effort. Counterfeiting, or buying and passing counterfeit currency falls flat into this game plan of easy money. The typical person is a criminal looking to separating retailers from their hard-earned money with the least amount of effort possible.

Michelle: When it comes to accepting counterfeit money, can businesses be proactive about safeguarding themselves?

Keith: In retail, we take precautions at every level of the shrink or loss pipeline. We have alarms, we have audits, we have theft devices, we have CCTV analytics and we lock store doors. We do everything that we can to protect the product on the shelves. But what are we doing to protect the authenticity of the money we take in daily, through our POS locations? Some people I talk to say, “We don’t have a counterfeit problem.”. Well, maybe that is because you don’t know you have a problem! I assure you that your finance and treasury department see the chargebacks and ultimately the financial impact. In one major New York City home improvement store, they have taken thousands of dollars in counterfeit bills in the past 3 months alone. We know this, because they tell us. You do have a problem, it’s just that you are not aware of the magnitude of that problem, as the loss is traditionally identified and handled by other parts of your company. It is still a loss and a profit impact. Also, others I talk to state that they have counterfeit technology in the back room that identifies bad bills. The problem is that you have still taken the bad bill and lost the value of that bill completely. If you deployed technology at the point-of-sale, then you would have been able to avoid taking the bad bill and start a process of identifying those responsible for passing counterfeit bills.

Michelle: How are retailers impacted when a counterfeit bill is taken?

Keith: Accepting counterfeit bills at the point-of-sale is theft. Once that bad bill goes with your deposit to the bank, the bank will find it and will reduce your deposit by that amount. You’ve been robbed by the person who passed you that bad bill. Our studies have found that any bill testing that takes place at the POS reduces the overall number of bad bills that come to that store. Counterfeiters are looking for easy “marks” to pass bills. If you are a retailer and you test bills at the POS counterfeiters will go elsewhere.

Michelle: There are many counterfeit detection products on the market. Why should business owners rely on Dri Mark?

Keith: Dri-Mark has been around over 60 years and they are the leader in counterfeit detection devices. They are a customer centric company focused on low cost solutions that keep your company safe from counterfeit fraud and profit loss due to taking fraudulent currency.

Michelle: With the rise of COVID-19 there has also been an increase in the amount of retail fraud in essential businesses from both patrons and employees. Why do you think societal pressures cause an increase in fraud and how can business protect themselves?

Keith: Let’s face it, our guard may be down a bit in these times. We are focused on providing for our communities…. that is what we do. It is natural for us to take an eye off the criminal element that is always roaming our aisles. Also, criminals are pouncing on our distractions and taking this time to make hay. We must be prepared, and we must remain vigilant. We must take every precaution at preventing profit loss. Counterfeit detection tools are easy to use, easy to install and the ROI is one of the quickest in the industry. Don’t let your guard down! Order some testing devices today, do a quick install at the POS, and rest assured that you are protected.

Michelle: How do you think that we can help each other as a community to combat retail fraud?

Keith: Now is the time when criminals work the hardest, when defenses are down, and we are distracted. As asset protection and loss prevention leaders, it is paramount that we are deploying every possible solution that makes sense…especially the lower cost ones which return a very high ROI. At Dri-Mark, we have you covered! Get your front end and all POS locations protected today.

You can reach Mr. Aubele at k.aubele@nav1gate.com
Learn more about Dri Mark Products at www.DriMark.com