HuHot Mongolian Grill employee, Michael Stephens, accused of skimming customers' credit card info

Co-worker reported Stephens had credit card reader

SHERIDAN, Colo. - Sheridan police say they arrested an employee at HuHot Mongolian Grill who is accused of stealing customers' credit card information.

Sheridan Police Chief Mark Campbell said investigators arrested 31-year-old Michael Alexander Stephens on Wednesday afternoon. He works at the HuHot Mongolian Grill at 3698 S. Natches Ct. in the River Point at Sheridan shopping district.

Stephens was being held on investigation of felony possession of identity theft tools at the Arapahoe County Jail. His bond was set at $3,000.

A female restaurant employee told managers she saw Stephens with a credit card reader. 

"It's concerning because a small device can download literally hundreds of cards," Campbell told 7NEWS Reporter Jennifer Kovaleski. "It's one swipe, and they have your information."

Police are now trying to figure out just how many people may be affected.

This is just the latest in a string of business data breaches where a criminal has targeted customers' identities and financial information.

"In this case, the restaurant did the right thing," Campbell stressed. "As soon as they thought there was something too this they immediately notified the police department."

"It looks like what was going on is the employee was downloading the data and using it for his own use," the chief said.

Police investigators found credit card numbers on the card reader, which appeared to confirm it had been used to capture customers' card information. They also discovered several gift cards that police believe were purchased using the stolen card numbers.

Police are now concerned there might be other victims.

"In this situation, we believe this suspect may have been employed at other area restaurants," Campbell said.

Sheridan police are working with the Secret Service to figure out exactly how many card numbers were stored on the card reader.

Chief Campbell's advice: Don't let your credit card out of view -- even at a restaurant.

"Whenever your credit card is out of your sight, you're exposed," he said.

Jennifer Kovaleski talked with HuHot's regional director. He said the restaurant is taking the incident very seriously.

We checked and found Stephens has a long criminal history in Colorado, including arrests for theft, burglary, car theft, assault, domestic violence, eluding police and DUI. He was sentenced to eight years in state prison in 2003 for a burglary conviction in Jefferson County.

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