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 casesconnected to the same restaurant in Jonesboro has almost doubled.

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

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

"The investigators found out about some very similar scamsthat went on in other agencies and other jurisdictions, even as far away asWashington State," Lt. Baxter said. "They began contacting some of thoseagencies and comparing notes and comparing the evidence. They're eveninvolving, 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 otherlaw enforcement agencies outside the state, they are also talking with theowners and employees at Kimono restaurant.

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

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

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

Police have yet to make any arrests related to this casedespite releasing surveillance photos of the two suspects – described only asAsian men in their mid- to early-20s – and a grainy image of the men's blackcar.

Investigators claim the two men cloned people's credit cardsafter skimming them at Kimono Steak House. They then reportedly went onshopping 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 StateUniversity in Jonesboro, said her credit card was compromised after her familyordered takeout at Kimono on November 6. Three days later, the suspects triedto 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 likelybe her last from Kimono.

"As much as we mightlike the food," Dr. Jackson-Pitts said, "we're not going to go back and visitanytime soon."

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