Friday, November 24, 2006

Officials investigating IHOP debit card fraud

By NICK BONHAM

Police investigating $70,000 worth of debit card fraud at the International House of Pancakes, 4701 N. Freeway, say the restaurant and its employees are not at fault.

While the investigation continues, authorities recommend against using debit cards when dining at the establishment.

"IHOP has great food, but my advice is to pay in cash," Sgt. Joe Garcia, head of the crimes against property division of the Pueblo Police Department, said Wednesday.

"We are confident at this time that employees and the restaurant are not at fault."

Police are following the flow of debit card transactions in attempt to determine where the fraud is taking place.

Detective Lee Karr, lead investigator in the case, said he's phoned a national company involved in the chain of transactions several times and has not received a response.

"IHOP from the start has been cooperative and I can't say anything bad at all about them," Karr said.

Detectives have received numerous reports of fraud linked to the North Side restaurant dating back to June. During that time, Garcia said, five area banks have been victimized.

"We haven't found one incident of credit card fraud," Garcia said. "It's all debit cards."

IHOP restaurants are privately owned and each uses different payment equipment.

Karr said a Wheat Ridge IHOP reported similar fraud recently. Both restaurants use the same vendor for a computer-related service.

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