ABA Journal


Civil Rights

2nd black shopper plans Barneys suit, says she was stopped by cops after buying a $2,500 purse

Oct 24, 2013, 10:05 pm CDT


No more Barney's for me!!

By TEELAW on 2013 10 25, 4:02 am CDT

How do police in NYC even have time to do this crap? Seriously. A whole group of undercover officers to check out why a debit card didn't have a name on it? How can they possibly have the staff and budget for that?

By B. McLeod on 2013 10 25, 7:06 am CDT

I wonder if there is some sort of specific fraud going on related to fake credit/debit cards where the cards are used to buy high end goods at stores like Barneys, which are later sold.

A few years ago, I got a call from the credit card company asking if I was trying to get a cash advance at a 7-11 in California. I was not in California, still had the card in my posession, hadn't used it in a while, and didn't even have a PIN issued to get cash advances. Later discussions with the fraud investigators from the credit card company indicated that this wasn't the only card and there was an organized gang on the west coast and in NY counterfitting cards. They alleged that a tray of cards had been stolen at the factory, however I think the credit card company's systems were hacked.

By Dr Phun on 2013 10 25, 5:06 pm CDT

G-d help us when a "nursing student" has $2,500 to spend on a purse. A rational person might think that the student is from a wealthy background and is merely going into nursing to have a career / keep herself busy / help the needy? Not likely. There are going to be tens of millions of people with no retirement funds living off the government and government funded healthcare. $2,500 would pay for at least two weeks of dialysis for one of them ............ Bravo Celine and Bravo LV !!! $2,500 purses: they're not just for the rich anymore.

By Wallstrafed on 2013 10 25, 7:57 pm CDT

Part of freedom is the freedom to make really stupid decisions. Except the decision to call the cops on paying customers which apparently is stupid enough to expose you to civil liability.

By Youngster on 2013 10 25, 11:20 pm CDT

Do these cops still think it's "Guilliani time"?

By faddking on 2013 10 26, 4:47 pm CDT

Oh, now, let's not be so melodramatic. Barneys management (apparently cowed by the Al Sharpton threat) has retained a high-power civil rights consultant to help them figure out if they are doing something wrong. So, the problem is that nobody told them. Once Barneys understands what is OK and not OK, they will use the consultant's report to fix this!

So, problem solved! We can all go back to stupidly spending our money for articles that are a hundred times over-priced.

By B. McLeod on 2013 10 26, 7:21 pm CDT

The cops should have caught their error when they realized the 19 year old was wearing a $1,000 hoodie....

Who but Al Sharletan wears a $350 belt?

By jimkr on 2013 10 27, 10:43 am CDT


You haven't met any BigLaw partners or wannabe partners, have you? If you had, you wouldn't have asked that question. There is no shortage of $3000-$6000 suits; $10,000 pocketbooks; $90,000 automobiles and other symbols of material success in BigLaw.

By faddking on 2013 10 27, 7:12 pm CDT

Indeed, they are symbols signifying that merchants and their sales staff have been materially successful in dumping highly overpriced goods on BigLaw attorneys. But then, turnabout seems fair play.

By B. McLeod on 2013 10 27, 7:20 pm CDT

I think I have to agree with McLeod on this one. If your attorney has $2,500 to spend on a handbag, just imagine what her next motion is going to cost you!

By BMF on 2013 10 27, 8:38 pm CDT

You guys are right, of course. Those kinds of price tags are absurd, as are those of us that pay those prices....
So for just a moment as a devil's advocate: why is a teenager ready to drop that kind of cash on an accessory that will remain essentially hidden from view when he wears it? Maybe questioning wasn't all that unreasonable.

By jimkr on 2013 10 27, 9:32 pm CDT

all this fretting about money, retirement, fear....what is money all about, anyway...

great philosophy book, extremely tiny, will fit in your pocket, also funny, from alain de botton's school of life series.

worth checking out if money is freaking you out.

all MONEY AND THE MEANING OF LIFE, by jacob needleman.

the philosophy of money is really worth thinking about a lot more, since money is pretty much everything to us now.

By defensive lawyer on 2013 10 29, 2:56 pm CDT

This all seems puzzling. Why would a merchant pursue a customer AFTER making a sale, if the payment through the card was accepted by the bank? Barneys has said they did nothing but make the sale. Perhaps the alert was triggered by the bank, not Barneys? Now it will turn into ye old Sharpton Shakedown, so I guess the truth doesn't matter.

By Smith on 2013 10 30, 11:07 am CDT

Comment removed by moderator.

By Banjo on 2013 10 30, 11:15 am CDT

@12 It is none of your business why this young man made a urchase that you -- or I --consider stupid. @14 There was no alert triggered by the bank. The young man used a legitimate debit card with sufficient funds. I am no fan of Al Sharpton and wish he would stay out of it, but in this case there is serious cause for concern.

As for the undercover police. I, too, was outraged that my taxes -- as a lifetime New Yorker-- are being used for police to routinely patrol inside,as well as outside, of a private store. However, there are other possibilities. After inquiring why there were uniformed police officers stationed inside the branches of several TD banks in the city, a friend told me that she had inquired and learned that the bank actually paid the city for the service. I'm not sure if this is true, or if the undercover officers were moonlighting. The real issue here is that the young man was stopped, handcuffed, taken to police headquarters, put in a cell and detained for shopping while black.

This for buying a belt that he saw on his favorite rapper, from a store that is having Jay-Z promote a line of apparel. Sort of ironic. More ironic that his name is Trayon.

By donniem23 on 2013 10 30, 11:22 am CDT

@16, I'm trying to figure out who would have an interest in alerting the police if they thought there was something fishy about a payment card transaction that had already gone through. Is there some sort of scam where the merchant could get stuck holding the bag, as it were, on a fraudulent but approved charge? Would involving the police after the fact save the store the disruption of refusing the transaction right there, on the spot? Or is it not the issuing bank that gets stuck holding the bag? Using the maxim "follow the money", where does it lead?
- Nonplussed

By Smith on 2013 10 30, 11:42 am CDT

Fraud departments of credit cards will routinely flag transactions after they've been approved. Approval requires sufficient funds and not triggering any other active limits. Once the purchase is made, the purchase itself can trigger other fraud screenings. I don't know if Barney's does this, but they should require ID for all purchases from anyone using non-cash payment. That would help alleviate some of this.

I got a call from discovercard at 12:30 AM because someone had used my card in Florida (1500 miles away) to purchase some things. They somehow copied my card. That's the fear these stores that sell overpriced crap have. As the merchant, they probably have to take some responsibility to help cover fraudulent transactions.

In this case, I bet the young lady bought the purse for an occasion and planned to return it.

By TLG on 2013 10 30, 1:51 pm CDT

I buy my clothing and accesories at WalMart. I've never been accused of a fraudulent purchase.

By 4th Year Evening Student on 2013 10 30, 3:00 pm CDT

Can anyone doubt there is racial profiling going on at this store? I am surprised...New York? I would expect it in the south, but New York?

By Pocahantas on 2013 10 30, 3:03 pm CDT

The young man had a driver's license and bank debit card. There was money in his account -- it was a cash debit transactions.

I think I liked Barneys better when it was owned by Barney (Pressman) and was a local bargain/discount store.

By donniem23 on 2013 10 30, 3:11 pm CDT

Just wondering.....was it necessary to mention the source of the funds (tax returns)? Would it have been different if this had been Trust money or even payroll?

By curious82 on 2013 10 31, 7:42 pm CDT

22. it was necessary to combat the assumed racisim and prejudice that is exhibited above. To show that she is an upstanding person. Unfortunately, it didn't work.

When a person does not have the skin tone (white) to move up a notch in our extremely race and class conscious society they can successfully, at times, use trappings of class such as expensive bags, shoes, etc. to indicate to potential employers, and others that they are worthy. I can vouch that the way you are dressed makes a HUGE difference in how you are treated. I experimented with that years ago. I could go on, but this post does it soooo much better. Please take a minute to read it:

By dsrtwren on 2013 10 31, 9:48 pm CDT

23. dsrtwren

Dressing the part is true irrespective of skin tone, worldwide. I keep several distinct clothing/accessory ensembles at hand when traveling that are appropriate for the local and venues. What is proper wear at a five-star hotel is certainly not at a B&B, or for walking unnoticed through the local souk or historic district nor for the Opera or walking cross-country. Being underdressed can get one barred from entry: to a shop, a hotel, a restaurant, a museum, an Opera house, a club, an so forth. Being overdressed can have even more serious consequences: it can make one the target of muggings, kidnappings, or worse…. besides being in just poor taste. Every society is race and class conscious: each has its own subtle and not so subtle rule of etiquette. Learning to play by the rules, and when you can have fun bending and breaching the rules without significant repercussions is part of the fun: it also is often appreciated by a significant subset of power outliers as a commonality, thus providing an entry into their private world where the real fun lay.

By DE_Law on 2013 11 01, 2:12 pm CDT

If Barneys's spokesperson is correct, and the NYPD does have "its own officers on Barneys' sales floor" (quote from article above) -- well, WTF, NYC? If Barneys spokesperson is correct that there are NYPD officers working on Barneys sales floor, then the people of NY are subsidizing Barneys, in that they're paying NYPD officers' salaries to work loss-prevention at Barneys.
The stores where I tend to my by $5-$10 belts and $20-$30 purses -- like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Walmart, Target, and my favorite, Ross Dress 4 Less -- all of those stores provide their own store security/loss-prevention officers. WTF, if NYPD is providing loss prevention for Barneys?
The possibility is that Barneys spokesperson is BS'ing about the cops themselves initiating the incidents, and there are no NYPD officers staking out Barneys. But that would seem to be a pretty bold lie.
So I'm inclined to believe that the little people of NYPD have been unknowingly subsidizing the stores where the wealthy shop. Wouldn't surprise me. Sickens me and angers me, but sadly doesn't surprise me.

By K. on 2013 11 01, 4:37 pm CDT


I meant "buy," not "by" -- the stores where I tend to BUY my ...)


The *other* possibility is that Barneys' spokesperson is BS'ing

By K. on 2013 11 01, 4:41 pm CDT

Dear Barneys are you out of your freaking mind! She'll be back to own your little shop. Please keep it up until I get to represent one of your victims ( isn't N.Y.C. Blue?)

By large weasel on 2013 11 01, 5:59 pm CDT

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