Apple sued over false accusations in Apple Store thefts by impostor


Apple is being sued by a man due to repeated accusations the man was behind numerous thefts at Apple Stores across the eastern seaboard of the United States, attempted thefts that were conducted by others who were impersonating the man.

The lawsuit, filed on May 28 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, is suing Apple and Security Industry Specialists, a contractor working for Apple on store security. The lawsuit claims the plaintiff Ousmane Bah was falsely accused of performing a number of Apple Store thefts, which led to his arrest in New York in November 2018.

The lawsuit appears to be a continuation of another legal action by Bah against Apple and SIS, launched in April 2019. It seems the claims are the same as in that lawsuit, but specifically takes aim at the activities in the Massachusetts Apple Stores.

According to the lawsuit, Bah received a learner’s permit for driving in New York State in March 2018, which took the form of a printout that contained details of his height, weight, date of birth, and eye color, but not his photograph. Bah lost his temporary permit within the following two months, but had received a permanent plastic version with his photograph.

Bah says Apple and SIS created a record for Bah as the thief in the video, and published the information to both SIS agents and Apple Stores in the Northeast US.

In May 2018, an SIS agent apprehended the impostor who attempted theft from a store in New Jersey. While the imposter was arrested by police, they were interrogated and the learner’s permit provided as identification, which then led to SIS circulating a “Be on the lookout” notice for Bah as a “known shoplifter” with the wrong photograph to Apple Stores.

A third robbery on May 31 had Apple identifying the thief as “Bah” from their records, and informed the Boston Police Department that Bah was behind it, despite it really being the impostor once again. Apple intended to press charges against Bah for the thefts.

Part of the problem is Apple’s alleged use of facial recognition, which it and SIS used to identify “Bah” as the perpetrator of the thefts less than 10 minutes after they took place. As the record of the fake “Bah” is unreliable, the lawsuit insists Apple and SIS knew its use of facial recognition was unreliable in this case.

In June 2018, Bah appeared in Boston Municipal Court and requested video evidence to prove he wasn’t behind the crimes, but Apple advised the video had been deleted. However, months later, Apple presented video of another thief who apparently worked alongside the impostor “Bah.”

More thefts by the impostor took place in New Jersey in September 2018, and a fresh accusation of theft by Bah provided to police again used the same questionable data. This was followed by multiple thefts in October 2018, and ultimately Bah’s arrest at his home in November 2018.

The arrest took place despite the photograph on the warrant being for the impostor, not Bah himself, a fact commented on by NYPD officers. A detective released Bah after spotting the issue, and advised that Bah was probably misidentified by a facial recognition system.

Two days later SIS employees caught the impostor at an Apple Store in Massachusetts, but despite fingerprints revealing the man’s identity as Mamadou Barry, he was extradited to New Jersey as “Bah” for outstanding warrants.

Bah continued to be prosecuted in multiple states, with the incorrect data still being used by Apple and SIS.

Bah’s lawyers laid out counts of defamation, malicious prosecution, intentional or negligent misrepresentation, and negligence against both Apple and SIS. The suit asks for damages for an unmentioned amount, to cease any further criminal accusations against Bah, to expunge the false allegations online and in print where possible to clear his name, to publicly apologize, and to set up a monitoring service to protect Bah’s reputation.

Apple and SIS have yet to comment on the latest legal activity.

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