Waitress Pleads Guilty In Scheme
A former Rockaway resident pleaded guilty this week to stealing credit card numbers while working in a Stamford, Connecticut restaurant as a waitress, according to the United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut.
Natasha Smith, 25, waived her right to indictment and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud. According to court documents and statements from September 2008 to January 2009, Smith worked as a waitress admitting that while working at the restaurant, she and a coworker, Chibuzo Okafor, stole credit card information from customers through the use of “skimming” devices. When restaurant customers would pay with their credit cards, Smith and Okafor would swipe the cards through hand-held skimmers before running them through the restaurant’s own legitimate credit card verification system.
The skimming devices would copy and store the account information encoded on the magnetic strips on the back of the credit cards.
Every few weeks, an individual who supplied the skimming devices would meet with Smith or Okafor so they could turn over to him the credit card information stored on the devices. That person would pay them either $20 or $25 for each credit card they successfully swiped through the skimming device and then give them new skimmers so they could continue with the scheme. The stolen credit card information was later used by members of the conspiracy to make unauthorized purchases.
While Smith and Okafor were employed, approximately 92 credit cards were compromised, resulting in losses of approximately $135,888. Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on November 18, 2011, at which time she faces a maximum term of five years in prison. Okafor pleaded guilty in 2010 for her role in the scheme. The investigation was conducted by the Connecticut Financial Crimes Task Force, the United States Postal Inspection Service and the United States Secret Service.