AUSTIN -- For more than 70 Popeye's customers, chicken and biscuits cost a lot more than they bargained for.
Two employees of the restaurant on North Lamar Boulevard near Rutland Drive, 17-year-old Alexis Blount and 32-year-old Pluitt Warren, were arrested at the restaurant Wednesday. Police say they were stealing the credit and debit card information of customers using a device called a skimmer.
"On top of them swiping the card through the point of sale device for Popeye's, they were also, as soon as they did that, they would swipe it through the skimmer device," explained Austin Senior Police Officer Veneza Aguinaga.
Aguinaga said the department was contacted by several local credit unions in February about fraudulent charges.
"All of those people visited the same Popeye's location," Aguinaga said.
Popeye's did its own investigation and narrowed the list of suspects down to two employees. In March, officers installed a hidden camera inside the restaurant. Police officers say they saw Blount and Warren skim 73 cards in three days.
“When you hear that, it kind of reminds you about money safety -- I guess going back to old school cash and checks," said Popeye’s customer Sabrina Thomas.
“It's ridiculous, but it happens. That's why you've got to protect your identity and your credit cards," added customer Steven Montoya.
While it takes more time and effort, police say it's a good idea to go inside of a restaurant or store when paying with your card, and always keep an eye on it and the person swiping it.
The good news is if your card information is stolen, most banks will refund your money. Still it's a hassle that a lot of Popeye's customers are learning about first hand.
Popeye’s released the following statement:
The Austin Police Department did apprised us of an investigation, in which we gave them our full cooperation.
Now that the legal process has begun, we want to respect the nature of the proceedings and it would be inappropriate for us to comment on the matter.
Company Representative Dallas Hendrix also said Blount and Warren have not been fired because the case is open, however, they will not be back at the restaurant. Hendrix also said Popeye’s plans to review its policies to make sure its customers are protected.