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The Art of the Steal: Lessons From a Hired Scammer

By Marcus Chan - 2012-03-07T01:44:23Z

Photograph by Getty Images

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Don't Tip This Waiter

The scam: Stickley played a waiter for a day, taking customers' credit cards. Instead of charging their meals, he ran their cards through a hand skimmer that recorded their account information, which he could then use fraudulently.

The lesson: Dining out presents that rare occurrence when we allow our credit cards to leave our sight, usually for several minutes.

It might be impractical to always pay in cash, but there are ways to minimize your risks. Stickley uses a specific credit card for what he considers risky transactions. It has a lower limit and he diligently reviews those transactions with a "fine-tooth comb." He also urges against using debit cards, since funds are drawn immediately from checking or savings accounts.