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Another black Barneys shopper accused of credit card fraud after buying $2,500 purse: claim

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Another black Barneys shopper accused of credit card fraud after buying $2,500 purse: claim Kayla Phillips, 21, says she was swarmed by four plainclothes cops after using her debit card to buy a $2,500 orange suede Céline bag. Her experience is eerily similar to that of Trayon Christian, 19, who filed a discrimination suit this week accusing Barneys and the NYPD of racial profiling. By Tina Moore AND Ginger Adams Otis / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2013, 10:47 PM Updated: Thursday, October 24, 2013, 8:02 PM Print Print Comment Aaron Showalter/New York Daily News chanel
Kayla Phillips, 21, was stopped by police in February at the 59th St. and Lexington Ave. subway station after purchasing a Céline handbag from Barneys at 61st St. and Madison Ave.
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Four plainclothes cops accused a black woman of credit card fraud after the Brooklyn mom bought a $2,500 designer bag from Barneys — stoking a fresh round of outrage against the high-end store.
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Kayla Phillips, 21, a nursing student from Canarsie, told the Daily News she had long coveted the orange suede Céline bag. Armed with a cash infusion from a tax return, she took her Bank of America debit card and headed to the Madison Ave. flagship store on Feb. 28.
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Phillips made the purchase without incident but says she was surrounded by cops just three blocks away, at the Lexington Ave. and 59th St. subway station.
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“There were three men and a woman,” she recalled. “Two of them attacked me and pushed me against a wall, and the other two appeared in front of me, blocking the turnstile.”
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The cops started peppering her with questions and demanding to see her ID.

“They were very rough,” said Phillips, who has filed a $5 million notice of claim with the city of her intention to sue the NYPD. “They kept asking me what I bought and saying, ‘Show us your card.’ I didn’t know what was happening.”
Aaron Showalter/New York Daily News
Phillips says the four cops blocked the turnstile and began to pepper her with questions about what she was doing in Manhattan and how she could afford the bag.

Phillips’ attorney, Kareem Vessup, says an additional civil rights lawsuit against the NYPD and Barneys is pending.

The 5 p.m. confrontation was eerily similar to a clash between cops and 19-year-old Trayon Christian, who filed a discrimination suit this week accusing Barneys and the NYPD of racially profiling him. Christian, who is black, alleged he was followed into the street by undercover cops and accused of fraud after he used his debit card to buy a $349 Ferragamo belt at Barneys on April 29.
RELATED: HAMILL: IT'S BUSINESS AS USUAL FOR BARNEYS TO RACIALLY PROFILE
The young Queens man was cuffed and taken to the 19th Precinct stationhouse, but released with no charges, his discrimination suit said.

Both Christian and Phillips were amazed at how quickly they were swarmed by police. A Barneys exec told Phillips’ mother, Wendy Elie, that store employees didn’t call police on her.

Elie told The News a security guard told her the store has law enforcement on patrol inside the store — part of an NYPD fraud task force. A source confirmed that undercover cops are periodically inside the store because of repeated fraud complaints.
Phillips, a nursing student from Canarsie, Brooklyn, told the Daily News she had long coveted the orange suede Céline bag.

Police said there were 53 grand larceny complaints for credit card fraud at the Madison Ave. store and more than 47 arrests. A racial breakdown of the suspects wasn’t immediately available.

NYPD officials wouldn’t say whether there was a dedicated task force working at Barneys or other luxury retailers.

Elie lashed out at Barneys, calling the store hypocritical for striking a business deal with Jay Z, the superstar black hip-hop artist, while targeting black shoppers.

“It’s not fair . . . the two individuals who have had these experiences listen to Jay Z and Beyoncé, who wear designer clothes. These kids also like nice things, and they were treated awfully,” Elie said.

Jay Z — in Oslo, Norway, on his Magna Carta tour — worked with major designers like Balenciaga to produce an exclusive limited edition line of clothes and jewelry for Barneys that will go on sale Nov. 20. The deluxe goods range from a Barneys cotton T-shirt for $70 to a Shawn Carter by Hublot watch with black alligator straps that will retail for an eye-popping $33,900.
RELATED: BARNEYS’ BLACK MARK
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Barneys posted a reponse on Facebook.

A portion of Jay Z’s profits will go to a foundation he runs to give financial aid to students facing economic hardships — people like Phillips and Christian, who are both working their way through college. Calls and emails to Jay Z’s publicist were not returned Wednesday.

A Barneys spokesman said in a statement that the upscale store had carefully reviewed Christian’s incident.

“It is clear that no employee of Barneys New York was involved in the pursuit of any action with the individual other than the sale . . . . We are very sorry that any customer of our store would have this experience,” the statement read.

That didn’t stop customers from panning the posh store on social media and vowing never to shop there again.

Patricia Gatling, who heads the city’s Human Rights Commission, said the allegations were outrageous for 2013.

“If true . . . (it) smacks of the same racism of the 1940s when my dad, a U.S. Army major who served in three wars as a pilot, tried to buy a car and was arrested because a black man should not have $5,000 in cash,” she said. “Had Mr. Christian come to the Commission on Human Rights, we would have vigorously prosecuted this case.”
Pearl Gabel/Pearl Gabel for New York Daily
Trayon Christian, 19, filed a discrimination suit this week accusing Barneys and the NYPD of racially profiling him. Christian said he was followed by undercover cops and accused of fraud after buying a $349 Ferragamo belt at Barneys on April 29.

Like Christian, Phillips used an ATM card to make her purchase. Including tax, the purse cost Phillips $2,504, according to a receipt obtained by The News.

“I had been looking for that purse in that color for a long time, and it was always out of stock,” said the young mom, who is pregnant with her second child.
RELATED: BARNEYS ACCUSED ME OF STEALING BECAUSE I'M BLACK: TEEN
Phillips was then working at Home Depot and had recently opened a bank account with Bank of America. She was using a temporary ATM card that didn’t have her name.

Her official ATM card had just arrived in the mail — and luckily she had it with her when the plainclothes cops nabbed her. The female detective, who was white, said Phillips, demanded to know where she lived and what she was doing in Manhattan.

“They kept asking how I could afford this expensive bag and why had I paid for it with a card with no name on it,” said Phillips.
The Barneys receipt for a Céline handbag purchased by Phillips. She used her Bank of America debit card for the luxury item.

They also questioned her about the Chanel bag she was carrying, she said. She showed them a letter from Bank of America, saying she hadn’t activated her official card yet.

The detective took her card and started bending it, Phillips said.

“If you were a victim of identity theft, if someone was trying to use your hard-earned money, wouldn’t you want us to investigate?” she allegedly told Phillips, after the startled shopper asked why they stopped her.

Phillips, whose brother is an NYPD officer, knew enough to ask the detectives for their names and badges, she said.

With Erin Durkin
RELATED: JAY Z, BARNEYS JOIN FORCES FOR HOLIDAY COLLECTION
Marcus Santos/New York Daily News
A Barneys spokesman said in a statement that the upscale store had looked into Christian's incident, and that it was 'clear' that no Barneys employees were involved in any actions but the sale.

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UPDATED: Barneys CEO releases statement

Barneys New York believes that no customer should have the unacceptable experience described in recent media reports, and we offer our sincere regret and deepest apologies.

Further to our statement of yesterday, we want to reinforce that Barneys New York has zero tolerance for any form of discrimination. We are a strong proponent of equal rights and equal treatment for all human beings. Our mission is to ensure that all customers receive the highest-quality service—without exception.

To this end, we are conducting a thorough review of our practices and procedures as they relate to these matters to ensure that they reflect our continued commitment to fairness and equality. To lead this review, we have retained a civil rights expert, Michael Yaki, who also serves on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. The Commission has been the nation’s watchdog for civil rights for more than 50 years. Mr. Yaki will be provided with unrestricted access to all aspects of our store operations.

In addition, Barneys New York has reached out to community leaders to begin a dialogue on this important issue.

Sincerely,

Mark Lee

CEO of Barneys New York
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