Home > Identity Theft > Waitress Allegedly Stole $1,000 by Adding Extra Tips to Credit Cards

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A former waitress was arrested May 5 for allegedly stealing more than $1,000 in false tips from unsuspecting patrons, reports WTSP in Tampa, Fla. Victoria Lynn Bachmann, 21, worked at Ozona Blue restaurant in Palm Harbor from March 11 until she was fired April 10, after the the restaurant management discovered her alleged fraud, according to an arrest report.

Bachmann is charged with grand theft for the $1,074.15 in cumulative tips she is accused of adding to 134 customers’ credit and debit cards — that’s an average of about $8 additional tip per check. The restaurant, which is pressing charges, accused Bachmann of entering tip amounts into the point-of-sale system that differed from what her customers wrote on their receipts, and the restaurant was ultimately liable for the fraudulent charges. Consumer protections on credit and debit cards generally protect the cardholder from fraud liability.

Those consumer protections are nice, but they vary depending on whether you’re using a credit card or debit card, the type of transaction that occurred (like whether the physical card was stolen or just the information was used for a card-not-present transaction) and how much time has elapsed between when the fraud occurs and when the cardholder reports it. The simple solution to all those caveats is to check your card activity daily, so you see fraudulent transactions as soon as they hit your account. The sooner you report the fraud, the more likely it is you can resolve it quickly and prevent any future problems. Left unchecked, credit card and debit card fraud can seriously damage your finances, because high credit card balances may be reported to credit bureaus and damage your credit score (until the fraud is resolved), or a thief could spend funds in your checking account that you need for bills. (You can see how your credit card spending is affecting your credit scores for free on Credit.com.)

You could also just make a habit of paying servers in cash. Still, anyone who uses a credit or debit card should closely review account activity for anything suspicious, because even if your chances of encountering a rogue server are low, there are lots of ways you may become a victim of fraud or identity theft.

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  • heavyw8t

    There was a similar incident in my home town about 20 years ago where a server was taking the credit card back to the POS system, calling her home phone, leaving a message with the name and card number, then going home after her shift and charging things with the card. The restaurant had so many complaints that they were able to piece together the fact that the people complaining were all seated in the server’s section. The manager invited them all to a free dinner on the same night, sat them in the same server’s section, and one by one asked if the server was the same one that took care of their table on the night in question. He got 10 out of 10 “yes” answers. At the 11th table was 4 detectives who took the girl into custody. They restaurant pressed charges, and the customers piled on in a class action type suit. She was found guilty and served prison time, as the amount she stole was approaching $10,000.

    Moral of the story: Just don’t be dishonest.

    From the consumer side, this is something to be concerned about, and the concern will vary with your paranoia level. I have my cards set on alert where any charge over $50 prompts an email from the card issuer. During my IT career I was often asked about using a credit card online. My reply was always “Have you ever gone to dinner? Did you pay with a credit card? How well did you know that server?” Online purchasing is encrypted at a level were nobody sees your actual card number. By the time it gets to the merchant it has been run through a complex algorithm that turns the number into hash. In person transactions call for the card actually being handed over and taken out of your line of sight. That’s your decision.

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