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The cost of a good meal

By Michael D. Wynn, CFE

After enjoying a fabulous meal, restaurant patrons in Manhattan’s Chinatown, New York metropolitan area, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Connecticut and Florida, had no ideal that they would be paying for someone else’s Rolex watch, diamond ring or other high-end merchandise.

Waiters from about 40 restaurants were busted in $3 million Identity Theft Ring that ran from November 1, 2005 to April 18, 2007.

Last week 12 of the 13 people indicted on April 20, 2007 were arraigned.

Manhattan District Attorney Robert M. Morgenthau announced the indictment of 12 men and one woman on conspiracy and other charges stemming from their participation in this large-scale identity theft ring that was responsible for more than $3 million in fraudulent credit card charges across the country.

Investigators revealed that this elaborate crime was ran by defendant JD Kenny who recruited and managed individuals who worked as waiters or waitresses, and “restaurant skimmers.”

The restaurant skimmers were provided with small hand-held devices capable of reading and memorizing the stolen information that was contained on the magnetic strip of credit cards.

The information from the “skimming devices” was then passed on to people who used the information to create counterfeit credit cards by encoding the information in the magnetic strips on high quality forged credit card blanks. Some of the members would obtained the victim account information, another group would manufactured the counterfeit credit cards and forged drivers’ licenses that served as identification. Another group shopped for merchandise using the fake cards, and then there was a group who would provide the goods to people interested in purchasing the stolen merchandise for cash.

The indictment charged Kenny with collecting the skimming devices from the skimmers who were paid anywhere from $35 to $50 for the information that was stored.

The police also found about 290 fake credit cards, $200,000 in cash, numerous Rolex watches and other expensive merchandise in his Brooklyn home.

All the defendants are being charged with fourth-degree conspiracy, punishable by up to four years in prison. Seven are also being charged with second-degree grand larceny, which carries a penalty of up to 15 years. The next court date is on May 23, 2007.

Remember keep your eyes on your credit cards at all times. Don’t let a clerk or accomplice distract you from the transaction. Credit card skimming is another reason to carefully check all charges on your monthly credit card bills.

“You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war”

— Albert Einstein

Reach Michael Wynn, got to, call (313) 592-3157, or email

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