CHICAGO, Ill. – Investigators say a restaurant manager in Chicago often encouraged his patrons to join the restaurant's rewards program. Then, Alexander Pera would offer to take the check and help you pay your bill quickly.
"When he [Alexander Pera] brought it back to process it, he would make copies of the application and the credit card. He had all of the personal identifiers as well as the credit card number," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Robert Sizer.
With that information and the rewards program application he had everything he needed to fraudulently use the credit cards, and he did. Investigators say he stole $50,000 50 victims.
Authorities say Pera took extravagant vacations as well as multiple trips to Disney World under different aliases.
"This guy had pretty much deceived everyone he worked with and everyone he lived with," said Sizer.
Pera lived with his wife and in-laws who were devastated when they learned about the crimes.
"He was going out of town for work, and he was going out of town for a job application, and all these other things they were all lies, for years, she had no idea who this person was and when all that came crashing down, she was kind of lost," explained Sizer.
Inspectors say if you join a rewards program, it's fine to give your name, number and email address. But, there is no reason to give your birth date. If they ask for it - change the year.
"Be very careful with who you give your credit card information to whether you're doing online, whether you are going to the local Walgreens or even going to a high end steak place," warned Sizer.
Inspectors also advise you to check your credit report at least once a year. You're entitled to a free report every year from the credit agencies. The Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida recommends you use AnnualCreditReport.com.