Eight local victims of credit card fraud had one thing in common: They had eaten at the Mugs n' Jugs restaurant on U.S. 19 in Port Richey before noticing fake charges on their cards.
Authorities say former Mugs n' Jugs waitress Kathryn Shana'e Perez used a "skimmer," a scanning device that captures personal details from a card's magnetic strip, to get information from customers' cards.
Then she would give the small device to her cousin Brandon James Quillen, whom authorities arrested July 22. He used the information to make fake credit cards that he gave to others, authorities said.
Quillen, 25, admitted to the scheme, according to his arrest report. Since his arrest, he has been charged with nine counts of fraudulent use of personal identification and 10 counts of fraudulent use of a credit card. He was also charged with scheming to defraud and possession of a scanning device and credit card making equipment. He was still being held Thursday at the Land O'Lakes jail in lieu of $68,000 bail.
Perez, 23, was arrested Wednesday in Hillsborough County and charged with seven counts of criminal use of personal identification information, scheme to defraud and possession of a scanning device. She was released Thursday on bail.
Perez told deputies she skimmed cards from customers who made her run around the restaurant and work hard, or who were bad tippers, authorities said.
"Sounds like she's scared of a hard day's work," said Pasco Detective John Suess, who has spent two months investigating the frauds.
Authorities say Quillen gave some of the fake credit cards to his ex-girlfriend, Rebecca Ann Pixton, 22. Pixton was arrested July 22 on charges of fraudulent use of a credit card and criminal use of a personal identification information.
The Pasco Sheriff's Office received several complaints about fake credit card charges in Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough counties between May 17 and June 24. Authorities said many of the purchases happened in Radio Shacks along U.S. 19 in Port Richey and Hudson, and that Quillen, Pixton and other accomplices racked up bills of $5,753.
Quillen was has been accused of high-tech crimes before. He pleaded guilty in 2005 to trafficking passwords and protected information, conspiring to traffic passwords and computer intrusion. He was accused of stealing passwords from SAGO, a website hosting company he worked for in 2003. He caused approximately $30,000 in damages, according to court reports. He also caused about $20,000 in damages when he did the same thing to the J.C. Newman Cigar Company. He was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay restitution.
The latest scheme began to unravel as residents noticed the strange charges on their credit card accounts.
Don Remington told Bay News 9 his wife, who diligently tracks their bills, noticed almost $1,000 in charges on their credit card after a dinner at Mugs n' Jugs in May.
"We've been had," Remington recalled saying.
Their bank refunded the lost money and Remington said he and his wife now try to pay with cash when they go out, though not to Mugs n' Jugs.
"I'm not going back," he said. "I'm not going to take a chance."
Times researcher Shirl Kennedy contributed to this report.