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Six sentenced in restaurant ‘skimming’ scheme

Six people will serve probation or prison time for their roles in a “skimming” operation that netted more $200,000 from diners using bank or credit cards at restaurants and attractions across the city, including Wrigley Field.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office announced Wednesday that six defendants had been sentenced for their roles in the scheme.

Ringleader Joseph Woods, 33, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a financial crime and was sentenced in July 2012 to five years in prison by Cook County Circuit Judge Diane Cannon.

Woods organized a scheme in which information was “skimmed” from credit cards at several restaurants, including RL on the Magnificent Mile, Taco Bell, McDonald’s and a food vendor operating at Wrigley Field, according to a statement from the attorney general’s office, which prosecuted the case.

More than $200,000 was stolen from victims’ bank and credit card accounts.

Woods paid employees of the restaurants to skim credit card information with a small card reader he provided, prosecutors said. Employees would swipe customers’ cards, giving Woods access to account information, with which he created counterfeit cards to make phony purchases.

Compromised in the scheme were accounts from Chase, U.S. Bank, Citibank, Harris Bank, American Express, Bank of America and Fifth Third Bank, all of which assisted in the investigation and notified potential victims.

The six defendants sentenced:

— William Washington, 31, pleaded guilty to continuing a financial crimes enterprise and was sentenced to six years in prison;

— Alex Houston, 23, pleaded guilty to financial institution fraud and was sentenced to three years in prison;

— Britain Woods, 34, pleaded guilty to financial institution fraud and served two-and-a-half months in jail;

— Jenette Farrar, 35, and Essence Houston, 29, pleaded guilty to financial institution fraud and were sentenced to two years of felony probation each;

— Kenyetta Davis, 33, pleaded guilty to identity theft and was sentenced to two years felony probation.

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