NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Authorities announced Friday that they have busted a steakhouse scam that, for a while, was well done.
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Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. announced the break-up of an elaborate identity theft ring that targeted patrons at steakhouses and other top-tier restaurants. The waiters would allegedly skim diners’ credit cards and go on luxury shopping sprees.
Some 28 people face racketeering and other charges.
“They worked at high-end restaurants in Manhattan, like Smith & Wollensky, the Capital Grille, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse and Joe Joe, as well as Morton’s Steakhouse in Stamford, Connecticut and the Bicycle Club in New Jersey,” said Vance on Friday.
The District Attorney’s office, the NYPD and the U.S. Secret Service helped build the case against the alleged skimmers.
After secretly skimming the diner’s card, they’d allegedly make a counterfeit one. Cops said after making the fake credit cards, members of the ring literally took them for a test drive and used the card to pay for short trips in a taxi to see if the charge would go through, CBS 2’s Tony Aiello reported.
Then members of the ring would take the cloned card and go on shopping sprees at shops like Neiman Marcus, Cartier and Chanel, authorities said. To back up their fake cards, the ring also allegedly made fake drivers’ licenses.
“This group was certainly well-organized, and very selective,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said.
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The accused kept some of the items that were purchased, but then resold the rest of the stuff they bought. They kept some of the merchandise in a Manhattan storage locker.
As part of the arrest, authorities recovered more than $1 million in cash, bottles of expensive wine and luxury watches.
Unfortunately, cases like this are not rare, authorities said.
The credit card companies have reimbursed victims, but experts said everyone ends up paying the cost as the price of fraud is built into the cost of doing business.
Just days ago, prosecutors said they broke up an elaborate skimming operation that targeted ATMs in the Union Square area.