Corino Bonjrada, owner of Mondello Ristorante Italiano said he became alarmed after several complaints from customers of suspicious charges after dining at his restaurant. “Every day I had three or four phone calls. They said somebody was buying stuff in Southern California. I had no idea what was going on. Some of my customers were saying they didn’t know if they wanted to come back,” Bonjrada said. “They were afraid.” Customers suspected his workers had taken their credit card information and used it, but Bonjrada found no evidence to support that theory:
“I didn’t know what to do. I went to computer experts. The point of sale people said they couldn’t find anything. Finally I called Ed Guinasso from Magnolia Tech Outlet in the Village. He said the best thing to do is to change the whole system. I called the police, of course, first. I was worried about my people here and I was worried about my business. At first the police thought it was an “insider.” I checked everyone closely for a week to make sure there were no problems. Finally they sent an FBI computer expert, who asked for the old system.”
According to the Associated Press, this led police to Christopher A. Schroebel, 21, of Maryland, who they say planted spying malware in the sales systems of two Seattle businesses, two of dozens of businesses targeted. Schroebel had collected at least 4,800 credit card numbers in 2011. He was arrested in November 2011 and plead guilty last month to federal charges that included bank fraud. He is set to be sentenced in August. Investigators say Schroebel worked with David Benjamin Schrooten, (known as “Fortezza” in the international hacking community, who sold stolen credit card numbers in bulk through websites), in creating websites to sell the credit card numbers . Schrooten was arrested in Romania and arrived in Seattle on Saturday. He has been charged with 14 crimes, ranging from access device fraud to identity theft. The investigation into the ring run by Schrooten is continuing and he is scheduled back in court Aug. 20.
Said U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan at a news conference: “People think that cyber criminals cannot be found or apprehended. Today we know that’s not true. You cannot hide in cyberspace. We will find you. We will charge you. We will extradite you and we will prosecute you.”
Seattle and federal authorities credit Bonjrada for kicking off the investigation.
When asked if all of his customers know there was a problem, Corino replied, “Probably not.” He says customers should “check their charges.” And if they notice an unknown charge? “They (customers) should call me first to let me know. They should contact their credit card company. Our system is good now. There are no problems at all.” He says. “(This) made me sad. I’ve been living here for 15 years. This community is my home. I care about my customers so much. I care about people. It’s what makes me successful. This is a safe place protected by me. If something happens, we’ll get it.”