Former waitress at P.F. Chang’s pleads guilty to skimming customer data

Nora R. Dannehy, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that Chibuzo Okafor, 24, of Rosedale, New York, waived her right to be indicted and pleaded guilty today before United States District Judge Janet C. Hall in Bridgeport to one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud.

According to court documents and statements made in court, from September 2008 to January 2009, Okafor worked as a waitress at P.F. Chang’s restaurant in Stamford, Connecticut. Prior to taking that job, she worked at Grand Lux Cafe in New York. In pleading guilty, Okafor admitted that, while working at these restaurants, she and a co-worker stole credit card information from customers through the use of “skimming” devices. When restaurant customers would pay with their credit cards, Okafor and her co-worker 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 Okafor or her co-worker 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 Okafor was employed at P.F. Chang’s, approximately 92 credit cards were compromised, which resulted in losses of approximately $147,220. Additional losses have been attributed to the conspiracy earlier in 2008 while the defendant was employed at the Grand Lux Cafe.

Judge Hall has scheduled sentencing for May 28, 2010, at which time Okafor faces a maximum term of imprisonment of five years.

Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office

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