Couple's credit card number stolen at restaurant

March 29, 2010 5:06:04 PM PDT
While paying with plastic at a restaurant seems harmless enough, you could be setting yourself up for big trouble. A local couple found that out the hard way when someone stole the husband's credit card number. Most of us pay for a meal with our credit card and never think twice about it. But once that card leaves your sight, it doesn't take long for your personal information to end up in the wrong hands. It happened to Kitty and David Dennis and investigators say it could easily happen to you.

David Dennis thought he was spending $19.76 when he gave the waiter his credit card after he and his wife dined with a friend at a local restaurant.

"We were just really pleased with him, gave him a big tip. Everything was fine," said David.

While the man seen here in the surveillance video is not the Dennis' waiter, investigators say somehow, he got hold of and used David Dennis' credit card number to buy at least a couple of hundred dollars worth of gift cards at two local drug stores.

"Then they would take that gift card, sell it on the street for half the face value and they generate cash to go in their pocket that way," said Sgt. Melody Hester, Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Financial crimes investigators say this type of scheme is becoming more common. Looking back on it now, Kitty Dennis thought it was unusual that the waiter insisted on settling the tab for them, even though they were supposed to pay it themselves at the register.

"We didn't even watch where he went. We just assumed he would take it up to the desk, but we didn't even watch where he went," said Kitty.

The card number was used three days after the Dennis' ate at the restaurant. What's more, the same thing happened to the couple's friend who had dined with them. Investigators believe the man, who they have yet to identify, bought the credit card numbers after the waiter either cloned or skimmed them. Thankfully, the credit card company recognized the problem and alerted him the very next day.

"I'd like to see them in jail. I'd like to see them in jail for doing this. It's not right. People work hard for their money and these guys are out stealing our money," said David Dennis.

The Dennis' found out the hard way. Investigators say let it be a lesson for the rest of us, the next time we dine out and pay with plastic.

"If you go to a restaurant or somewhere where the person has to leave your area with your credit card, you need to keep an eye on that person," said Sgt. Ester.

Or better yet, pay with cash. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Have the waiter point out the area in the restaurant where credit cards and cash are typically taken to settle the bill. Take some ownership, and remember, it's your money.

If you have any information on this case, call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS or visit www.Crime-Stoppers.org. All callers will remain anonymous, and you could be eligible for a cash reward.


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