DES MOINES, Wash. - Hundreds, if not thousands, of Red Robin customers could be the victims of theft and not even know it.
Only KIRO 7 uncovered the skimming scheme that police say lasted for months at the burger chain's Des Moines location.
A waitress who worked for nearly three years at the Red Robin on Marine View Drive was recently arrested. Investigators with the King County Sheriff's Office believe she's been skimming customers' credit and debit cards at least since last fall, possibly with a hand-held scanner.
Bank information from the cards was then used to make thousands of dollars' worth of fraudulent purchases at retail stores across Puget Sound, according to the Sheriff's Office.
So far, investigators have said they only know of Boeing Employees Credit Union customers who had their cards skimmed, because it was the first credit union or bank to notice the fraud.
"I do think that she actually got me twice on my debit card and my credit card, two different times," said Scott Lansing, who, shortly after eating at the Red Robin, was told he was a victim last December.
Lansing noticed a $944 charge at the Puyallup Walmart, which he'd never visited. BECU credited him the cash and compared his experience with at least seven other BECU customers who had had card information compromised.
The only common purchase location was the Des Moines Red Robin, police said.
Lansing and others police identified as victims didn't know where their information had been skimmed until contacted by KIRO 7 Thursday.
"I've been so curious, I mean, I had no idea where it happened or who did it," Lansing said. "It was great to get the call to at least know now where it was happening."
But the King County Sheriff's Office was quick to point out that skimming can happen anywhere.
Red Robin is cooperating with the investigation, which is expected to expand to all banks beyond BECU and all customers the suspect employee waited on.
"We're getting a search warrant to have information for every single credit card that this employee scanned during her employment," Sgt. Cindi West said. "That's quite a lot of records, if you could imagine."
Red Robin said it fired the employee as soon as she was arrested. She has not yet been charged with a crime, and the investigation goes on. Customers who have eaten there and may have noticed a strange charge should call their banks, not police.