Are you better off paying by cash in a restaurant?

Something to think about after reading that eight people plead guilty to a credit card skimming scheme in the Washington, D.C. area. The criminals involved netted more than $700,000 from restaurant customers credit cards.

Eight plead guilty in credit card-skimming scheme
More than $700,000 in fraudulent charges made

by Andrea Noble
Staff Writer

Eight people involved in a credit card-skimming scheme which netted more than $700,000 from customers of area restaurants pleaded guilty Monday to charges including bank fraud, access device fraud and aggravated identity theft, according to the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Joseph Artemus Bush III, 28, of Fort Washington; Aaron D. Gilbert, 25, of Bowie; and Erick V. Burton, 38, of District Heights pleaded guilty to paying servers at Washington, D.C. restaurants to steal the credit card numbers of customers between November 2007 and March 2009, according to documents from the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The credit card numbers were re-encoded onto existing cards and used by Bush, Gilbert and Burton to purchase merchandise at area retail stores ranging from a Gucci in Chevy Chase to a Wal-Mart in Alexandria, Va.

The scheme resulted in thousands of transactions with an estimated loss of $736,393 that affected more than 50 financial institutions, said Dana J. Boente, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Three of the guilty parties plead guilty to paying restaurant servers twenty dollars per skimmed card. The restaurants involved include Clyde’s Restaurant, 701 Restaurant and M&S Grill in Washington, D.C.

In an affidavit filed in April by investigating Secret Service Agent Philip Soto, a server at Carrabbas Italian Restaurant in Bowie and hotel staff at Gaylord Hotel in National Harbor were also implicated in the scheme. United States Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr said those employees were not charged in the scheme.

I know that carrying around a boat load of cash isn’t the safest thing the do, but is that restaurant worker you’re handing your credit card to trustworthy?  Do restaurant customers need to stand over the servers as they swipe your credit card? I’m sure the majority of restaurant employees are honest but a certain few can taint all.

What about the folks involved in this crime?  Was it worth it?  They put themselves in a sad and pathetic situation.  But this is the life they wanted to live and they will all pay the price.

Check out the entire article here.

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