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Waiters scam rich cardholders

By Janna Herron ·
Friday, November 18, 2011
Posted: 5 pm ET

While well-heeled diners at some of New York's finest steakhouses savored the last of their tuna tartar and filet mignon, their waiters stole the account data from their premium credit cards.

About two dozen current and former waiters at upscale restaurants, such as Smith & Wollensky, Wolfgang Steak and Capital Grille, were arrested for being a part of an alleged credit card skimming ring. (Waiters at Morton's in Stamford, Conn., and Bicycle Club in New Jersey were also booked.)

According to media reports, the servers were especially fond of swiping American Express Black cards, often considered one of the most elite cards for the wealthiest of the rich, along with other top-scale cards. They allegedly used handheld skimming devices as they took the cards to pay for the bill.

The waiters then worked with professional card counterfeiters to produce cloned cards and went on shopping sprees for luxury goods such as Chanel bags and Jimmy Choo shoes. They turned around and sold those goods for money.

Law enforcement officials estimate they pocketed a whopping $1 million, at least.

That puts other recent servers-turned-criminals to shame. The Mugs 'N Jugs waitress in Florida, along with her associates, only managed to rip off $5,753 from their stolen credit card numbers. And the North Dakota T.G.I. Friday's waitress, who lifted one customer's credit card, only squeezed in a $26.50 Walmart shopping trip before getting picked up by police.

Fortunately, your liability from a lost or stolen credit card is limited to $50 under the law. But to play it safe, always monitor your statements for fishy transactions, and set up automatic mobile or email alerts if your bank offers them.

If you find suspicious activity on your card, contact local law enforcement, your issuer and the three credit reporting agencies.

Have you had your credit card data stolen?

Follow me on Twitter: @JannaHerron

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buddy little
January 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm

a long time ago I realised that paying a percentage of the bill as a tip, that the costlier the meal the larger the tip, regardless of the service given was stupid. I have since then, tipped on service alone.

November 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Do you tip your congressman/woman for their service? Wait a min - what service?

November 20, 2011 at 12:42 am

One thing in this -tipping-- everyone says tip a waiter 10%-20%-
the question I have is why? A tip is based on performance of the individual-- not the cost of a meal and/or drinks. I tip cash and pay credit. If they are going to steal- it will happen no matter how you handle it. Tips may be a warped factor or not. Just keep track of your transactions. A Restaurant that dosen't pay a reasonable wage should not expect the customer to do it for them. A $20.00 meal is $20.00-- that includes service. It should be priced in accordingly. A tip is for the service but it is not guaranteed. Bad service says a small or no tip.