Six charged in skimming ring at Wrigley Field, Chicago restaurants

Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced criminal charges against six defendants alleging they illegally obtained personal banking information from patrons dining and visiting Chicago area restaurants and attractions, including Wrigley Field and Magnificent Mile’s RL Restaurant.

Defendants Joseph Woods, Alex Houston, Jenette Farrar, Essence S. Houston and Kenyetta Davis were arraigned earlier yesterday in Cook County Circuit Court for skimming card numbers to make purchases of more than $200,000 from victims’ banking and credit card accounts. A sixth defendant, Britain E. Woods, will be arraigned in the scheme during a hearing on Monday.

Madigan alleged Joseph Woods, 32, of Chicago, organized the scheme by paying employees to skim customers’ credit card informationusing a small credit card reader provided to them by Woods.

Britain Woods, 33, Essence Houston, 28, Farrar, 34, and Davis, 31, all of Chicago, at various times were employed by the establishments used in the scheme, including Wrigley Field, RL Restaurant and Taco Bell and McDonald’s Restaurants. Madigan said Alex Houston, 22, is charged for allegedly using the counterfeit cards to make illegal purchases with Joseph Woods.

The defendants were each charged with conspiracy to commit a financial crime, a Class 1 felony punishable by four to 15 years in prison. Joseph Woods, Essence Houston, Alex Houston and Davis were also charged with continuing a financial crimes enterprise, a Class 1 felony. Joseph Woods faces one additional count of Class 1 identity theft, and Alex Houston and Davis face an additional Class 2 identity theft charge, punishable by three to seven years in prison.

Madigan said financial institutions with accounts that were compromised in the scheme include Chase, U.S. Bank, Citibank, Harris Bank, American Express, Bank of America and Fifth Third Bank. The banks assisted in the investigations and are notifying potential victims.

The cases were investigated by the U.S. Secret Service and referred to Madigan’s office for prosecution.

Source: Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan

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