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Waitress scams bad tippers

By Marcie Geffner · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Posted: 2 pm ET

Three people have been arrested as part of an investigation into allegations of credit card skimming at a local restaurant in New Port Richey, Fla.

According to a press statement, the Pasco County sheriff's office has charged a waitress at a Mugs 'N Jugs with criminal use of personal identification information, and charged several of the waitress' known associates with scheming to defraud, possession of a card scanning device and fraudulent use of credit cards.

The waitress allegedly used a hand-sized electronic skimming device to scan customers' credit cards without their knowledge or consent. She then, according to the allegations, gave the information to an associate, who allegedly obtained additional personal financial information and account numbers and manufactured fake credit cards. Other associates then allegedly used the fake cards to make purchases at local retailers. The goods were later sold for cash, according to local news reports.

The alleged scam appears to have been relatively prosaic and petty, at least in the colloquial sense, as so far only nine people have reported losses totaling just $5,753. That's not to suggest that hundred- or thousand-dollar losses are insignificant to the victims, but rather that major financial crimes can involve millions of dollars or more.

Still, the small scam is noteworthy for one peculiar aspect: According to news reports, the waitress allegedly targeted customers who made her work too hard at the restaurant or who, in her opinion, didn't tip generously enough. That's a cautionary tale for restaurant diners and a good reminder to practice safe credit card habits:

  • Try to use credit and debit cards only at reputable merchants.
  • If in doubt, pay cash.
  • Watch out for red flags, such as a credit card that's taken out of your sight for a too-long period of time.
  • Monitor your credit card statement for fraudulent transactions.
  • Report any unauthorized use of a credit card to the card issuer as soon as possible.

Follow me on Twitter: @marciegeff

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770 Comments
Big Tipper Guy
October 08, 2011 at 11:36 am

I tip store cashiers, bank tellers, paper boy, USPS carrier and the nice old lady who carries my groceries to the car. As a former IRS auditor I kept a large tip jar on my desk and always expected generous contributions from waitresses, bartenders and beauticians.

Very Peculiar
October 08, 2011 at 11:24 am

Mr8-the-bank-employee claims you are taking a risk using cash, conveniently overlooking "muggings" by financial insitutions who rely on bogus/suspect fees to generate revenue - not to mention other scams. I am currently contacting law firms to puruse a prominent bank for failing to honor promised statement credit for credit card application. Twenty years ago I blew the whistle on the 17th largest bank in the nation for applying bogus charges to loan accounts - they eventually settled the matter due to class action while admitting no wrong doing of course.

RustyH
October 07, 2011 at 3:30 pm

The real crime is the stiffer and the lack of minimum wage paid to the waitress. Yes, if the waitress does not earn minimum wage after declared tips, the company is required to pay the difference. However, waitress will no longer have a job and is encouraged to declare more.

If your not going to tip, go consume fast food.

JOHN NORTHROP
October 07, 2011 at 12:37 pm

WATCH THE CANADIAN TOURIST THAT WINTER IN FLORIDA..THEY ARE
NOTORIOUS FOR NOT LEAVING A TIP. A FRIEND OF MINE, TOLD ME OF A GROUP OF GRAY HAIR CANADIANS, TWELVE OF THEM SAT DOWN, ATE, DRANK
AND WHERE GENERALLY NICE, THE WAITRESS SERVED THEM PROMPTLY,
THEY LEFT A DOLLAR TIP.. THE NEXT TIME THEY CAME IN THE WAITRESS
SCATTERED, AND NO ONE WOULD WAIT ON THEM.... WORD OF CAUTION, IF
YOUR WAITRESSING, AND SEE GRAY HAIR CANADIANS, THEY USUALLY DRIVE
DOWN, SO IT'S EASY TO SPOT THEIR CHRYSLER NEWYORKER WITH CANADIAN
PLATES, THE WOMEN DO MOST OF THE DRIVING, AS THEY LOOK THROUGH THE STEERING WHEEL

mrn8nau
October 05, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Al,
If you're so worried about the IRS, maybe you should try doing things the right way...then you don't have to hide from them anymore.