Two men dining at a Waffle House in Louisiana on Saturday allegedly left the restaurant without paying their bill totaling $7.81. Workers at the establishment notified law enforcement reporting the incident, and also disclosed that the men drove off in a U-Haul van.
While police took statements from employees of the restaurant, patrolling officers noticed a U-Haul fitting the description parked in the lot of a hotel in the vicinity. As they approached the van the officers immediately apprehended the driver, California resident Stayshawn D. Stephens. The passenger, identified as Richard A. Brown, of Indiana, tried to escape into the forest on foot, but a K-9 officer exposed his whereabouts and he was taken into custody.
Upon inspection of the contents of the van, Deputy Chief Daniel Hunter reported finding credit card skimmers, which are electronic devices with the ability to store personal information gathered by swiping credit cards. They also discovered fake ID’s, credit cards, and a bill from a Waffle House for $7.41.
Hunter noted that Stephens and Brown had flown to New Orleans and rented the U-Haul. They allegedly installed credit card skimming devices at several area gas stations in order to procure patrons’ credit card numbers. He believes that “a highly sophisticated identity theft scheme operating out of Los Angeles” has been uncovered.
20-year-old Stephens and 18-year-old Brown were each charged with identity theft, bank fraud, monetary instrument abuse and theft by fraud. Additionally, Stephens has been charged with criminal damage to property, driving with a suspended license, fraudulently acquiring credit cards and forgery, and Brown was indicted for battery on a police officer and resisting arrest by flight.
Local New Orleans law enforcement is working to assist the Secret Service in order to find out if there are others participating in the alleged offenses.
If you or someone you love is suspected of fraud or theft, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.