This is a sad story about people taking advantage of trust given to them by the general public. No, it's not about the government or big-business (this time), but about the trust that we put in the waitstaff at our favorite restaurants.
Six servers at high-end restaurants in Washington, DC, were accused of stealing credit card numbers from customers and selling them to criminals who used the numbers to create counterfeit cards and charge $750K worth of items at local stores. (See the full article from the Washington Examiner here.)
Secret Service investigators cracked the Washington-area scheme
after customers began complaining to their banks of unauthorized
charges on their cards, Secret Service Special Agent Philip Soto wrote
in a sworn statement filed in Alexandria’s federal court. Soto
discovered patterns in the charges that led him to the restaurants,
where managers helped him trace the stolen information back to specific
“Every employee has a unique
number they put into the register before ringing up a charge,” Clyde’s
of Gallery Place manager Paul Walker told The Examiner. “With that
system in place, we can point back to an employee very quickly. …
It’s very traceable.”
A few lessons to be learned and points to be made in light of this story:
- Watch your credit & bank accounts for odd activity. You can't catch what you don't see.
- Regardless of the poor example these servers have give, most servers are wonderful and extremely trustworthy. Don't let a few bad apples make you disrespectful.
- As an industry, retailers and restaurateurs need to use systems to make the detective work easier (at least) and stealing private data harder (even better).
It's a shame that these stories happen at all, and with a bad economy people become even more desperate. The best that we can do is show that this type of behavior will be recognized and punished, without over-reacting and only seeing the negative.