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Waiters swiped credit cards, ID at top NYC eateries: DA

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Dozens of Manhattan’s wealthiest restaurant-goers were stabbed in the back with a steak knife by their very own waiters, who secretly copied their high-limit AmEx cards and gave the info to a fraud ring that spent millions of dollars at upscale retailers, authorities said yesterday.

 

The 28 suspects include seven waiters from top eateries like Smith & Wollensky, The Capital Grille, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse and JoJo.

 

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said his detectives had “never seen better reproduction” of phony cards — which were used by “shoppers” at stores such as Chanel, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Hermès of Paris, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdale’s.

 

A raid Wednesday at a Manhattan Mini-Storage used by the ring to warehouse goods recovered more than a million dollars worth of merchandise.

 

 

Ringleaders boasted in a recent phone conversation that “they intended to clear $1 million between October and Christmas of this year,” said Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.

 

The accused waiters were particularly interested in the exclusive black AmEx Centurion — an invitation-only card reserved for the wealthiest members that requires a one-year expenditure of $250,000.

 

They believed those customers were less likely to notice extra big-ticket purchases on their monthly bills, sources said.

 

“The Black card — that was gold to them,” said a law-enforcement source.

 

“They’d settle for a Gold or Platinum card. But they’d always take a Black card.”

 

The servers were allegedly paid by the ring to use handheld “skimmers” to copy data from the cards.

 

That data was later used to create a duplicate AmEx card in the victim’s name, and the buyers created fake IDs to match.

 

The purchased goods were often sold to a stable of buyers who knew they were stolen-to-order.

 

Those “customers” resold the items on the Internet, authorities said.

 

One of the suspects, Eric Brahms, 44, was arrested at Mount Sinai Hospital, where his wife was going into labor.

 

At the request of Assistant DA Kenn Kern, all of the defendants were ordered held after arraignment in Manhattan Criminal Court until authorities could verify that their bail was not paid with ill-gotten funds.

 

Among the defendants were the accused ringleader, Lucius Damian Jacas, and Andrew Parker — a Manhattan party boy who had previously been busted for shoplifting luxury items and ID theft.

 

Additional reporting by Helen Freund and Antonio Antenucci

 

laura.italiano@nypost.com

 

 

Read more: Waiters at top New York restaurants stole credit-card data from diners, DA says - NYPOST.com

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Talk about irony... I just got my AMEX Platinum card today (upgraded from my AMEX Gold card). I track all of my purchases carefully online and haven't had any problems yet. I will say that you have to be careful though because since these cards have no pre-set spending limit, you can run up charges into the thousands easily in a few hours as I've done on mini shopping sprees at Saks, Barneys and Bloomingdales. The only time that I have to worry is when I go out to eat, but even then I don't worry too much. You see I wrote to AMEX when I first got my Gold card a few years ago because even though I was new to the game in terms of charge cards, I noticed a problem. You couldn't see your pending charges online and I told them I was very unhappy with that and a month or so later, violà, I could view all of my pending charges online, which can then allow you to see if there are any fradulent pending charges.

 

AMEX is very pro-active in watching customers' accounts and keeping them happy at all costs, but I pull my credit report everyday and check all of my accounts online. Takes no more than 5 - 10 minutes tops and it is a very smart way to track your accounts.

 

I have been overcharged for small amounts a few times and I immediately call AMEX and have them credit me the difference, often times on the spot and I haven't had to submit any paperwork yet for anything. You have to watch because when folks see these cards, they know that you need good credit and pretty decent income to have those cards, so they figure that you won't mind being overcharged and such. There are a few high end eateries where I go that they don't think I want my receipt, but I always ask for it if I don't get it to ensure that I'm charged not a cent more than what I should be paying.

 

If anything I've be undercharged more often than overcharged. :cool:

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