Restaurant workers skimmed $117,000 from patrons’ credit cards, authorities say

Three servers at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue in the District allegedly stole credit card numbers from patrons as part of a scheme that racked up more than $117,000 in fraudulent charges between 2008 and last year.

Investigators with the U.S. Secret Service allege the servers were working for a larger fraud ring and were using electronic devices to “skim” the credit card numbers of those they served at the restaurant. The devices were handed off to others, and the stolen numbers were used to make fake credit cards and later used to buy gift cards and merchandise in the Washington area, according to court records in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

Federal officials became aware of the scheme in April of last year, when Citibank investigators reported numerous fraudulent charges on cards that had been used at the Cheesecake Factory restaurant at 5345 Wisconsin Ave., in Friendship Heights just south of the Maryland line. Because servers at the restaurant have to swipe a server card unique to them before processing a credit card, investigators were able to narrow the transactions to three servers, according to court documents.

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