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?
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