Banner
Home Forums Movie Theaters The Back Office What scams have you uncovered?
Welcome, Guest
Username: Password: Remember me
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2

TOPIC: What scams have you uncovered?

What scams have you uncovered? 25 Mar 2008 05:58 #25504

  • NSCInemas
  • NSCInemas's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Expert Boarder
  • Posts: 133
  • Karma: 0
Because of my comments on high percaps and drops in attendance comment on the "popcorn" thread in the "Concession" forurum I started thinking about some the scams I uncovered when I was a manager. I like the think that I was pretty good at researching and investigating such matters. My favorite one that I caught red handed was when I worked for a large national chain that at the time still used paper gift certificates. They came in a book of 100 and were in five dollar increments. We would give each cashier their own book every shift and record the opening serial number as each certificate was serialized. When they were redeemed the cashier would stamp them as "VOID" and place them in thier drawer. When it came time to cashout the total dollar amount of all the redeemed gift certificates would be entered in its own feild in the radiant system and the amount would be deducted from the amount of cash expected to be in the drawer. Like wise we would record the closing number then deduct the opening number from the closing number to get the total certs sold then multiply by five and enter the dollar amount sold in a feild that added to the expected total. (They were supposed to be rung in when sold but sometimes they didnt if it was a cash sale so thankfully radiant enabled the gift certs sold feild to be edited)

One day I was asked by the Box Office manager to assist her and cash out a box office draw for her. I happened to noticed a large amount of gift certificates that were redeemed and stamped void, they all had consecutive serial numbers and were all from the book issued to the cashier that day. Sometimes if the individual certs came loose the cashier would just redeem it as it would balance itself out but there was a few hundred dollars worth here. I started to dig deeper and saw that all these certs had been sold today, and I saw a few hundred dollars worth of gift certs sold to one credit card. At this point I asked the cashier to wait around for a few minutes that there was a problem with the computer (all cashiers had to sign a cashout summary sheet at the end of their shift) I looked up the card and saw that it was used to purchase two tickets and then 15 minutes later used to purchase $300 in gift books. The signatures did not match. I called the credit card company and they contected the customer and asked them to call me. I asked them if they had purchased these and they said no. Then they realized that the card was missing. At this point I called the police. When the police arrived I took the employee and the cop into a back office and confronted him with the evidence. He ended up confessing and was terminated and arrested. What he was doing was selling the gift certs to the credit card and then immediately voiding them and swapping them for cash out of the drawer. The usual box manager never caught it because the draw always balanced, she never caught on to the large number of certs redeemed or the consecutive numbers that were sold the same day! The funny thing was we were getting a large amount of credit card charge backs to the box office and neither the Box Manager, The house manager, or the GM, or Loss prevention thought to investigate! This happened when I was still an assistant When I got promoted to GM at other theatres I caught the same scam there also.

Anyone else have a good story?

[This message has been edited by NSCInemas (edited March 25, 2008).]
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 25 Mar 2008 10:37 #25505

  • rodeojack
  • rodeojack's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 1242
  • Thank you received: 3
  • Karma: 0
Good story. Probably like other scams, you can see how specific details have to fall in line for it to work. In this case, printed gift certs, a high card transaction limit (maybe no limit?) and void authorization.

I don't know anything about Radiant, but maybe some of this could be adjusted by how the system is set up. The RTS system we use allows the ability to set permissions to suit your operation and comfort level.

I like the magnetic gift cards. I suppose the method described above works pretty much the same way, considering how the passes are controlled and serialized, but the cards are pretty fast, and everything is automatically logged.

Limit transaction amounts. Our system limits how much you can put on a gift card with one transaction. You can legitimately create a card with larger amounts, but the multiple transactions required can draw attention to the event.

Control void authorization. We can select which persons can void a ticket, reverse a credit card transaction or enter a card number manually. That might have helped in this case. At our place, the number of people who can do all three of these things is very limited.

RTS records just about everything you do with it... maybe everything. One day, two of our staff got bored and punched up various quantities of everything we sell.. just goofing around with the system. Then, they'd clear the screen without ever hitting 'total'. They were very surprised to learn we knew about it... who, what and when... something like 15 pages each!

Fingerprint login and video cameras aren't too expensive. Don't talk about what the cameras feed. We fixed a lot of problems just by mounting cameras in our boxoffices. The issues cleared themselves before I had time to run the wires.

I'd think that not talking to the staff about what you can see, and not making wild claims about what you can't is probably as important as anything.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 25 Mar 2008 12:02 #25506

  • slapintheface
  • slapintheface's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 2407
  • Thank you received: 11
  • Karma: -22
When i first became a DM i was going through box office reports from the Kenmore theater in Brooklyn.At the bottom of the page in small numbers it gave the time reports were printed .Friday and Sat they were printed at 2am in the morning week after week.
Strange as there last show was never past 10pm.

I went there the following fri at midnight and the manager and staff were running MIDNIGHT SHOWS and keeping all the boxoffice money !
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 25 Mar 2008 13:10 #25507

  • muviebuf
  • muviebuf's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 686
  • Thank you received: 1
  • Karma: 0
One of the easiest and simplest scams - especially in this day of computerized ticketing - is the "downscale ticket switch".

In this one a ticket seller and ticket taker work together. (Of course if you don't have a ticket taker this one becomes much easier). Most patrons do not look at their computerized ticket - except perhaps to verify the name of the movie and audortium. The ticket seller takes the money for a full priced adult admission and issues a discounted ticket (e.g child, student, matinee, whatever) and pockets the difference between what is charged and rung up.

This one had the added advantage that it doesn't throw off a head count (should one be made) nor does it throw off the average daily per-capita since it does not short the actual number of tickets sold.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 25 Mar 2008 14:03 #25508

  • trackfood
  • trackfood's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Gold Boarder
  • Posts: 312
  • Thank you received: 1
  • Karma: 1
Well, I've seen a lot of different things. I worked for a chain for 15 years, everything from automaticket machines, pacer to radiant systems. While computers certainly send up a lot of red flags to some things, somebody needs to look.
I've seen cashiers who have also been the ticket taker, simply resell the 2nd half of the ticket to the next customers. Thats quick money.
I've seen managers take the entire gross from special shows. Say a school calls and wants to bring 100 kids to shrek or something, the manager says ok, $5.00 a person, then never punches up tickets, and gets a nice Christmas bonus. Seen the same thing with concessions, charges each student $2.00 for a bag of popcorn and complimentary cup of soda, those items have a "loose inventory" so nothing gets rung in and your christmas bonus just got bigger.
I've seen concession attendants sell $9.00 combos, then later void them all and pocket the cash, (doesn't work very well,or too often, since every cup/tub was counted nightly).
I've seen cashiers void tickets and just pocket the cash.
I've seen managers just write of candy or other stock items as "Spoilage" to cover-up shortages.
I had an asst take $35.00 cash out of the dippin dot vending machine, then simply write off 10 dippin dot packages as spoilage to cover it up.
I even had an usher and concession attendant work together, the usher was going to pull cups/tubs out of the garbage/wipe them out, then the vending attendant was going to re-sell them. I caught that one before it happened thank god...
After the last movies started and the doors were locked, it was quite common for customers to want to get in late, so the ushers would let them in for $5 and just pocket it.
I had an usher who would "charge" for refills after the stand closed. Even though, no such policy existed...
Immediate termination of the involved employees usually got the staffs attention for a while...
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 25 Mar 2008 14:52 #25509

  • NSCInemas
  • NSCInemas's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Expert Boarder
  • Posts: 133
  • Karma: 0
The company I worked for required the ticket stub and a customer signature and adress for all refunds. Only managers could process voids. We kept all our spoilage in a special bin so at the end of the night we could verify the spoilage.

At one theatre in our region the GM who had been there for YEARS and YEARS always seemed to have the computers crash every friday night! MIS could never find anything wrong so they finnally sent in an investigator. What they found was this manager would turn off the main managers station (Radiant) which causes the whole system to crash. Then he would take a roll of "emergency tickets" that were not the real companies hard stock but a roll he bought at staples and sell those "tickets" and pocket the cash! Crazy!
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 25 Mar 2008 16:51 #25510

  • trackfood
  • trackfood's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Gold Boarder
  • Posts: 312
  • Thank you received: 1
  • Karma: 1
I don't know if stealing money would even be worth your ENTIRE Radiant computer system being down. I hated when that would occasionally happen. There were lots of times I can remember certain pos's not comunicating with the back office. Generally caused problems. Always wanted the pos stations to show up in green.

I remember one time my kids were at work with me on a friday afternoon, then I was done after the matinees and my area supervisor was working that night. Little did he know that my son had turned off the radiant back office computer earlier that day, and it apparently was not fully back on-line. One of the box office stations was not communicating with the back office and he had oversold some big movie by like 100 seats... He wasn't happy!!!
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 26 Mar 2008 08:42 #25511

  • thebigK
  • thebigK's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Fresh Boarder
  • Posts: 5
  • Karma: 0
If your theatre was running mid-nite shows without company authorization how did they get people to show up? Certainly, these shows would not be in the paper and it would be too risky to list them on the recording as every DM I know always called his theatres recording line to make sure it was error free and intelligible, likewise posting these shows on the marquee would be just as risky in case they got a visit from a DM or other circuit personnell? What about payroll and concession sales? I would think there would be a spike in payroll and percap if they were selling concessions without selling tickets unless they were pocketing that money too, in which case shortages would have spiked way up? Seems to me that this would be awfully difficult to accomplish without getting caught the first time! It's funny how smart the crooks always think they are and how they have a "they won't catch ME" attitude or a "Ive worked here for 20 years they wont suspect me!" attitude.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 26 Mar 2008 12:40 #25512

  • slapintheface
  • slapintheface's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 2407
  • Thank you received: 11
  • Karma: -22
I took over the district when the dm had a heart attack.The district was all brooklyn and longisland..It did take me about 3 weeeks to pickI it up.

It was a very good scam as they new the old dm would never go there that late.(he lived to far away)

This is how they did it...

The KENMORE is in a bad,bad area but with thousands of people on the streets at night.(and i mean thousands)About 9pm the just added the times to the menue board.So many people would walk up see the times and they would get 60 to 150 on fri and sat..They had the same 3 people work the late shows and they split the cash.(they used roll tickets)
The per cap at this theater was allways high as are most African American theaters.
I had this district for 6 months and then the districts changed and i then had Manhattan and Brooklyn.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 26 Mar 2008 12:47 #25513

  • slapintheface
  • slapintheface's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 2407
  • Thank you received: 11
  • Karma: -22
One thing i rarely did was check up on the recordings.Most NY City theater managers are a different breed of manager.The are usually more professional and on the ball. They are paid much better. I was looking at old paper work i had from my dm days.The Kenmore theater manager that replaced the one that was fired started at $750 a week (His 1st theater to manage)for a quad. This was in 1987.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 27 Mar 2008 05:28 #25514

  • NSCInemas
  • NSCInemas's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Expert Boarder
  • Posts: 133
  • Karma: 0
I agree with slap about the recording, Most of the theatre managers I worked with were competent enough to do a recording.

New York theatres are a different breed too. I can totally see just putting showtimes on the outside marquee at 9pm ang getting plenty of people, the foot traffic is very very heavy as opposed to a typical cinema.
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re: What scams have you uncovered? 22 May 2008 19:16 #25515

  • Shaboomers
  • Shaboomers's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Junior Boarder
  • Posts: 35
  • Karma: 0
test
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re:What scams have you uncovered? 26 Aug 2008 20:25 #29813

If the theatre was getting 60-150 people for an unadvertised midnight show, why did the company not make it MANDATORY once they found out those numbers? That, to me, would be the most absurd thing...
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re:What scams have you uncovered? 26 Aug 2008 23:23 #29816

  • slapintheface
  • slapintheface's Avatar
  • OFFLINE
  • Platinum Boarder
  • Posts: 2407
  • Thank you received: 11
  • Karma: -22
This was not worth the risk...The most dangerous theater late at night..or in the day for that matter...
The administrator has disabled public write access.

Re:What scams have you uncovered? 27 Aug 2008 07:38 #29820

Heck, pay for a police officer or two to be on site. You'd still come out ahead with those kind of numbers.
The administrator has disabled public write access.
  • Page:
  • 1
  • 2
Time to create page: 0.260 seconds
attraction attraction
attraction
attraction
attraction
attraction