‘Cheeky’ Taco Bell employee stole customers’ card info with nearby manager, SC cops say

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A Taco Bell employee splurged on shoes, a phone and electric scooter rides using credit card information she stole from unsuspecting customers, South Carolina authorities say.

Laquawanda Hawkins, 36, worked at the drive-thru of a Taco Bell in Hartsville where police said she took photos of customers’ payment cards, despite her manager being a few feet away.

Police also reported surveillance video showing Hawkins in the act.

An “assistant manager positively identified Hawkins as the employee who ran the drive-thru and committed the thefts,” Hartsville officers wrote in a report obtained by McClatchy News. “She’s so cheeky and slick about it that she even does it while the director is right behind her bookshelves.”

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Hawkins was arrested June 17 on multiple counts of impersonation, credit card number theft and receiving fraudulently obtained property, according to the police report. She was taken to Darlington County Detention Center and released three days later after posting $60,000 bond.

Officers were first alerted to the suspected thefts on June 6 after a victim noticed an unauthorized charge on his bank card after visiting the Taco Bell drive-thru, according to the report. A copy of her statement showed the fraudster attempted to swipe her card at Pizza Hut and used it at an auto parts store in addition to racking up more than $630 in Bird scooter rentals.

At least two other victims have come forward with similar complaints of fraudulent charges, police said. One filed a police report after his card details were used to pay a city water bill. A state driver’s license submitted with the payment belonged to Hawkins, authorities said.

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“There were also other charges to the card…for Bird Scooters, McDonald’s and a grocery pickup at Walmart,” agents wrote.

Hawkins was interviewed on June 17 and admitted to taking pictures of credit and debit card numbers after she fell behind on her rent and utilities, the police report said. She denied sharing the numbers with anyone else, but said it was possible her living boyfriend saw the pictures on his mobile phone.

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Hawkins also admitted to buying “shoes” and a new phone online, although she denied buying “as much as (victims) claimed”, officers wrote.

When asked if other Taco Bell employees stole customers’ credit card information, Hawkins replied, “Probably.”

McClatchy News contacted Taco Bell for comment on June 23 and was awaiting a response.

Hartsville is about 70 miles northeast of Columbia.

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