Credit card fraud claims more victims, reaches across state line - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Credit card fraud claims more victims, reaches across state lines

Suspects' photos (Provided by Jonesboro Police Department) Suspects' photos (Provided by Jonesboro Police Department)
Suspects' car (Provided by Jonesboro Police Department) Suspects' car (Provided by Jonesboro Police Department)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) – The number of credit card fraud cases connected to the same restaurant in Jonesboro has almost doubled.

The Jonesboro Police Department first reported that 13 people filed reports last week, claiming someone stole their credit card numbers after eating at Kimono Steak House on Main Street in Jonesboro. As of Tuesday, investigators said at least 25 people have now come forward as victims.

Lt. Scott Baxter with Jonesboro police said the investigation has uncovered similar incidents far outside the state.

"The investigators found out about some very similar scams that went on in other agencies and other jurisdictions, even as far away as Washington State," Lt. Baxter said. "They began contacting some of those agencies and comparing notes and comparing the evidence. They're even involving, I think, some of the federal agencies."

The federal agency is apparently the Secret Service, according to Lt. Baxter. While police make efforts to collaborate with other law enforcement agencies outside the state, they are also talking with the owners and employees at Kimono restaurant.

"I do believe that [the investigators] have been speaking with the owners, managers and all the employees down there and trying to track down every possible lead that they can," Lt. Baxter said.

Right now, he's unsure if the owners are involved with this apparent scheme, but the investigation is ongoing. He says people should keep checking their credit card balances and bank statements if they have recently eaten at Kimono.

"If you come across something you're not sure about, look into it further and try to figure out where that charge was made and whether or not you made it." Lt. Baxter said. "If you didn't, report it as soon as possible – the sooner we get on these types of investigations, the better."

Police have yet to make any arrests related to this case despite releasing surveillance photos of the two suspects – described only as Asian men in their mid- to early-20s – and a grainy image of the men's black car.

Investigators claim the two men cloned people's credit cards after skimming them at Kimono Steak House. They then reportedly went on shopping sprees buying gift cards and electronics at Wal-Mart stores across the region – including Jonesboro, Paragould, Trumann, Newport, Walnut Ridge and Searcy.

Dr. Mary Jackson-Pitts, a professor at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, said her credit card was compromised after her family ordered takeout at Kimono on November 6. Three days later, the suspects tried to spend more than $1,500 at the Pocahontas Wal-Mart, though Dr. Jackson-Pitts' bank alerted her to the fraudulent charges almost immediately.

She said the meal that she ordered two weeks ago will likely be her last from Kimono.

 "As much as we might like the food," Dr. Jackson-Pitts said, "we're not going to go back and visit anytime soon."

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