Main | Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Devil Wears A Skimmer

You may recognize the above Manhattan hotspot as one of Miranda Priestly's preferred eateries in The Devil Wears Prada. This week Smith & Wollensky and several other tony NYC restaurants are in the news after some of their wait staff were busted for skimming the black Amex cards of their zillionaire clientele.
High-tech "skimmers" -- hard to detect because they fit into the palm of a hand -- captured customers' credit card numbers at high-end restaurants in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, including Smith & Wollensky's and the Capital Grille, according to indictments unveiled by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance.The two indictments, with a total of 172 criminal counts, detailed the scheme run by the 28-member ring, which included seven waiters, 10 shoppers, several organizers and a handful of customers who bought the luxury goods knowing they were stolen.

After the waiters skimmed the credit cards, the numbers were then used to manufacture phony credit cards, complete with embossed numbers and the names of the customers whose cards were skimmed, investigators said. An army of shoppers equipped with the cards -- and in some cases, matching fraudulent driver's licenses -- were sent to stores such as Jimmy Choo, Cartier and Neiman Marcus to purchase handbags, shoes and other items, according to the indictments. The items were resold for profit.
Investigators found over $1.2M in cash and over $1M in luxury goods when they searched a midtown storage unit. It turns out that the super-rich don't examine their credit card statements very closely.

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