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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