Seven people have been charged with using customer card numbers to make unauthorized purchases.
Three Twin Cities restaurant workers and four alleged accomplices are facing federal bank fraud charges of capturing the credit card information of local diners and using it to make at least $150,000 in purchases for themselves.
The seven were charged by an indictment unsealed Tuesday in federal district court in St. Paul. They are Demetrius Darnell Thomas, 35, and Kanetra Danielle Range, 31, of Rogers; Nancia Raquel Range, 34, and Makiesha Edwina Mayo, 28, of St. Paul; Anthony Curry, 23, of Plymouth; Brandon Conique Scott, 27, of Eagan, and Brian Craig Davis, 46, of Chaska.
According to the U.S. attorney's office, Curry, Mayo and Scott worked in Twin Cities restaurants and "skimmed" customers' credit card information.
Skimming often involves copying or capturing the information with a small electronic device during an otherwise legitimate transaction. The information can be sold or transferred to counterfeit credit cards, which can be used freely by the thieves and accomplices. It is most often carried out in restaurants, bars and gas stations, as well as at ATM machines.
The indictment alleges that between August and at least December of 2009, the group purchased at least $150,000 in goods and services illegally with restaurant customers' stolen credit card information. Purchases specifically cited in the indictment were $200.72 at the St. Louis Park Target and $800 at Elsa's House of Sleep in St. Paul. The indictment describes a $400 purchase at Footlocker in Edina as "attempted."
The U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the St. Paul Police Department, the Edina Police Department, the St. Louis Park Police Department and the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force investigated.
According to CreditCards.com, a credit card marketing and research organization, customers should ideally keep their credit card in sight during retail transactions. If a server or clerk wants to walk away with it, the customer should follow him or her. The simple alternative is to use cash, the website states. Customers should also check their monthly statements carefully for unauthorized purchases.
Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646