NYC waiters held over alleged $1 million credit card scam
Staff from some of the city's top steakhouses among those arrested, NBC reports
More than two dozen current and former waiters and their associates from some of the city's top steakhouses have been arrested in an alleged identity theft ring, accused of stealing credit card numbers from wealthy customers, authorities said Friday.
The Manhattan district attorney, police and the U.S. Secret Service announced the arrests Friday involving a 28-person ring that operated at top metro-area restaurants like Smith & Wollensky, Capital Grille and Wolfgang Steak, as well as Morton’s in Stamford, Conn. and the Bicycle Club in New Jersey.
The story was first reported Thursday by NBC New York.
The alleged scam targeted customers who often paid with American Express Black cards and other high-limit credit cards.
Prosecutors said restaurant workers used handheld scanners to copy the credit card information as they walked away to process the bill. Later, that information would be sent to leaders of the alleged fraud ring, who would forge new credit cards with the stolen information and test them out on taxis.
If the cards worked, the suspects would go on major shopping sprees, buying up expensive goods like Chanel goods and Jimmy Choo shoes. The thieves would then re-sell the luxury brand items for cash.
Officials estimate profits totaled at least $1 million, sources said.
In all, seven waiters were charged, plus their associates. Many of the suspects were to be arraigned in Manhattan criminal court on Friday.
The Capital Grille said in a statement it had not been contacted by authorities about the arrests, but said it was likely connected to an incident in January "involving a single former employee" of the restaurant.
"We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to something like this," the restaurant said.
Managers at Smith & Wollensky and the Bicycle Club restaurants declined to comment.
A manager at one Wolfgang’s restaurant said he believed all workers on the schedule Thursday had arrived and was unaware of any law enforcement allegations against any worker.
A manager at Morton's also referred calls to its corporate headquarters.
Officials stress restaurant operators had no knowledge of the alleged crimes by the few employees.
Cops: NYC waiters stole $1 million in credit card scam - US news - Crime & courts - msnbc.com