Orlando police: Dozens of diners affected by credit card skimmer
Updated On: Jan 29 2013 06:40:24 PM EST
Orlando police say at least 32 people have fallen victim to someone stealing their credit card information and draining their bank accounts--and more victims could be affected.
OPD officers arrested Josue Morales, 33, and charged him with theft by obtaining credit card by fraudulent means, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and criminal use of personal information.
Police said Morales recruited servers at local restaurants to "skim" credit cards from unsuspecting customers.
Several victims of the skimming have been reported from the TooJay's restaurant on East Colonial Drive in Orlando, according to police. According to the arrest affidavit, on Jan. 11, surveillance video showed a server at the TooJay's take credit cards from two customers into the women's restroom, where investigators believe use used a skimming device to scan and store both victims' credit card account numbers.
"I think it's incredible that somebody can first of all think to do that, and get away with that," said Nova Conner, a TooJay's customer.
About two weeks later, the victims, one of which was a former commander with the Orange County Sheriff's Office, noticed the fraudulent charges on their credit cards. Some of the charges included $585 charged at Saks Fifth Avenue at the Florida Mall.
Investigators said Saks surveillance video showed Morales using the counterfeit card to make the purchase, according to the affidavit. Morales was previously arrested after using a fraudulent card at Firkin and Kegler in September on charges of possession of counterfeit driver's license.
Christopher Seymour, the regional supervisor for TooJay's, told Local 6 the employee who took the cards into the bathroom was fired immediately. Seymour said the employee had been working at the TooJay's for a few months.
"Obviously, it's a shock for us as a brand out there we hope people can trust. We were obviously astonished that this was happening in one of our restaurants," Seymour said.
Police called the operation a criminal conspiracy, and tell Local 6 other suspects could still be out there.
"I'm kind of worried something might go on, but I trust them. There's always that doubt in my mind," said Caitlynn McGreggor, who now plans to protect herself with one simple step, "Don't use your card, use cash only."
Police also suggest diners check bank statements every time credit cards are used, and because they said it is an active and ongoing investigation, more charges and suspects could still be involved.