Hartsville Taco Bell worker accused of credit card, identity fraud
HARTSVILLE, S.C. (WMBF) - A Hartsville Taco Bell worker is facing credit card fraud charges for multiple victims after allegedly photographing card numbers when customers paid for their food.
Throughout the month of June, at least four victims contacted the Hartsville Police Department complaining of fraudulent charges on their credit/debit cards. All had been customers at the same Taco Bell in Hartsville and paid with credit/debit cards.
One victim told police the suspect had used their card to attempt to pay sanitation fees to the city. After filing a police report, the city released the suspect’s account information to the police and refunded the victim for the fraudulent charge.
According to the report, the suspect called the city to say the Community Action agency was going to help her pay her water bill. The city employee told the suspect the agency would not pay and she would have to pay the amount in person with personal funds or a cashier’s check, as instructed by the police.
The next day, the city employee sent the Hartsville police an email of the South Carolina Divers License used to pay the sanitation fees.
The suspect was identified as Laquawanda Hawkins.
The report states at that point, warrants for identity fraud, credit card number theft, and receiving goods fraudulently obtained.
Security footage from Taco Bell was obtained by the police department and the assistant manager positively identified Hawkins as the employee running the drive-thru and committing the thefts.
The assistant manager also told police Hawkins quit a few days earlier.
On June 17, Hartville police officers contacted Hawkins, who agreed to meet at the police station to discuss her alleged involvement in several cases of identity fraud, credit card number theft and receiving goods fraudulently obtained.
The officer told Hawkins he knew she committed the crimes and wanted to know why. According to the report, Hawkins said she wanted to be honest and has been having trouble paying bills, specifically mentioning her water bill and owing money to her landlord.
Hawkins admitted to photographing credit cards and using them for her own, personal gain, but did not give anyone else the credit card numbers to use the report states.
“She was so brazen and slick about it that she even does it while the manager is right behind her stocking shelves,” the officer wrote in his report.
As the officer reviewed the alleged purchases made by Hawkins, she said she hadn’t purchased as many things as the list claimed and denied shopping at more than one location.
The officer asked again if she gave the card number to anyone else, to which Hawkins answered her boyfriend, who sometimes stayed with her, could have seen the card numbers on her phone, the report states.
Hawkins admitted to using stolen cards to rent and ride Bird scooters with her children but denied giving card numbers to her children or anyone else through the Bird app. She told police she bought shoes and another phone with the stolen card numbers and offered to take police to her home to collect the items.
Officers told Hawkins there were three different charges and four victims, for a total of 12 warrants.
Hawkins agreed to return all property and provide the phone she used as well as the password.
Escorted to her home by police, Hawkins turned in a phone, a few boxes and a bag of evidence.
When asked if any of her Taco Bell coworkers were doing the same thing she was, Hawkins replied, “Probably,” according to the report.
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