Taco Bell employee in South Carolina accused of credit card, identity fraud

HARTSVILLE, S.C. — A woman who worked at a South Carolina Taco Bell is accused of taking photos of customers’ credit cards and using the numbers to buy items for herself, authorities said.

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Laquawanda Hawkins was arrested Friday and charged with four counts of financial transaction card theft, four counts of financial identity fraud and four counts of fraudulently receiving goods or services, according to Darlington County Sheriff’s Office online booking records.

Police said in an incident report that Hawkins was “so brazen and slick about it that she even does it while the manager is right behind her stocking shelves,” WBTW-TV reported.

During June, at least four customers at the Hartsville Taco Bell contacted the Hartsville Police Department complaining of fraudulent charges to their debit or credit cards, WMBF-TV reported.

According to online booking records, 10 of the offenses occurred on May 18, while the other two stemmed from a June 10 complaint.

Police were called to the Taco Bell about credit card fraud on June 6, WBTW reported. A victim reported a fraud alert that someone had tried to used their credit card at a Pizza Hut in Hartsville, according to the television station. A copy of transactions the victim gave police revealed that purchases were made both in Hartsville and online.

Another report, dated June 10, included purchases at the same Taco Bell, along with $636 in Bird scooter rentals and purchases at an Advance Auto store, WBTW reported.

One victim told police that Hawkins had used their card to attempt to pay city sanitation fees, WMBF reported. After filing a police report, the city released Hawkins’ account information to the police and refunded the victim for the fraudulent charge.

According to the report, Hawkins called officials to say the Community Action agency was going to help her pay her water bill, according to the television station. According to police, the city employee told Hawkins the agency would not pay and she would have to pay the amount in person with personal funds or a cashier’s check, WMBF reported.

When Hawkins paid the bill the next day, the city employee sent police a copy of the driver’s license used to help pay the sanitation fees. The license was Hawkins’, the television station reported.

Restaurant surveillance video taken on May 29 showed Hawkins taking photos of credit cards with her phone before returning them to drive-thru customers, according to police.

Police said Hawkins admitted to taking pictures of the cards and using them, stating that she owed bills, WBTW reported. She also said she bought shoes and another phone online, according to the incident report. She denied shopping at other locations, and offered to return the items that she had fraudulently bought.

Hawkins was booked into the W. Glenn Campbell Detention Center on Friday afternoon, online records show. She was released after posting $60,000 on Monday morning, according to booking records.

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