Call it a cheesy ending to Nicole Ward's career as a key participant in a local credit card fraud scheme.
Neil MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Jeffrey Irvine, special agent in charge of the United States Secret Service's Washington Field Office, have announced that Ward, 28, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit bank fraud for her involvement in a card-skimming scheme that targeted customers of The Cheesecake Factory in Northwest Washington.
According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2008, Ward, a server at The Cheesecake Factory located at 5345 Wisconsin Ave. N.W., recruited two other servers and offered to pay them for each credit card number stolen from the restaurant’s customers. She provided the other two servers, whose names have been withheld because they cooperated with law enforcement officials, with card-skimming devices that captured credit card numbers.
In all, Ward and the two servers collected nearly 90 credit card numbers by March 2009. During the U.S. Secret Service’s investigation, law enforcement officials found that Ward turned over the stolen numbers to alleged co-conspirator Gabriel Camara, who encoded the numbers onto other cards. Those cards were used to buy merchandise in Virginia, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in its release.
Camara was arrested on June 9 on related charges.
Now that she has entered a plea, Ward faces up to 30 years in prison when she is sentenced on Oct. 29.
Ward was represented by Alfred Robertson Jr., a solo practitioner in Fairfax, Va.