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Seattle Restaurant Owner Helps Bust Major Fraud Operation

Liz Jones

A computer hacker charged with bank fraud made his first appearance in federal court in Seattle Monday. He allegedly stole more than 1,300 credit numbers from people in the Seattle area. A restaurant owner in Magnolia helped bust the international operation, as KUOW's Liz Jones reports.


Corino Bonjrada owns Mondello Italian restaurant in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. Last summer, some customers started calling him with the same complaint.

Bonjrada: "Well, that 10 minutes after they left the restaurant, uh, they were charged from a different part of the country."

The charges were made in California at places like Home Depot and Walmart.

The complaints started to pile up, so Bonjrada called the Seattle Police. The police later called in the secret service. The joint investigation led to two computer hackers, Christopher Schroebel and David Schrooten. The pair allegedly worked together to steal the credit card numbers from Mondello's.

And that was just one stop on their cyber crime spree, according to federal documents. Schrooten is charged with stealing and trafficking more than 44,000 credit cards numbers across the country.

Jenny Durkan is the US Attorney for Western Washington. She says this type of cybercrime is a $40 billion a year operation.

Durkan: "Any business that is online is a target. Any person that is online is a target."

In this case, a Shoreline business, the Seattle Restaurant Store, was also a target. Durkan says more businesses may be added to the list, the investigation is ongoing.

Corino Bonjrada says the hacking was a huge threat to his restaurant. Customers were afraid to return. But Durkan says she's certain Mondello's is now one of the safest places around to use your credit card.

Durkan: "His customers should know he did the right thing, they've been protected and it's a good place to have dinner."

Durkan also says Mondello's customers played a key role in this case. They noticed and raised the alarm about suspicious charges on their credit cards. I'm Liz Jones, KUOW News.

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