WASHINGTON, May 23 (UPI) -- Three employees of a Washington restaurant have been charged with skimming more than $100,000 in phony charges on customers' credit cards, authorities said.
Federal investigators said the suspects -- servers at the Cheesecake Factory -- allegedly stole an estimated $117,000 in phony charges in 2008 and 2009, The Washington Post reported Sunday.
The U.S. Secret Service said the servers were connected with a larger fraud operation that used electronic devices and stolen account numbers to fabricate phony credit cards. The fake cards were later used to purchase merchandise and gift cards, U.S. District Court records show.
Citibank tipped off federal investigators about the alleged scheme in 2009, after noticing fraudulent charges on credit cards that had been used at the restaurant where the suspects worked as servers, the Post reported. Investigators were able to identify the suspects because servers at the restaurant are issued cards they must swipe before they can swipe a credit card, the newspaper reported, citing court documents.
Two of the accused servers said a third server, identified as Nicole L. Ward, had recruited them to participate in the alleged scheme. Ward allegedly passed victims' credit card numbers to two men identified in documents as "Slim" and "G," the Post said.
Ward was arrested Wednesday and released following an appearance in federal court in Alexandria, the report said.