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ABC 6 INVESTIGATES: Confessions of a Dishonest Waitress

COLUMBUS (Tom Sussi) -- Hidden in the shadows is a 20-something, college-educated woman who, for the past four years, has supported herself by serving tables.

She wouldn't do this interview unless we agreed to conceal her identity. After all, she's breaking the law.

"It's a form of petty theft," she told ABC 6 Investigators.

She talked about crimes she committed against unsuspecting diners "maybe five to 10 times."

She said she has altered credit card receipts -- padding tips she believed were too low for the service she provided.

"I feel that I earned it and I feel offended that someone would put me in a position like I have to steal what I earned."

She gave the following example:

"I have a $90 dollar tab, for example, and someone leaves me $2 as a tip. So I write in a one in front of the two and somehow change the bottom number to whatever it is."

Summer Yurasek said something similar happened to her when she was served by another waitress. She said she bought a couple of beers at a local bar and when she closed out her tab, she accidentally left behind her credit card. When she checked her bank statements the following day, her jaw dropped. The tab was more than $74.

"I know they added a few more drinks and a $50 tip or something like that," she recalled.

Yurasek said her bank wound up taking off the charges. These days, Yurasek says, "I never have a tab! Never."

However, other servers have said such cases are rare.

Leona Marcum has waited on tables for 14 years, and has spent the past five at Tommy's Diner in Columbus. ABC 6 Investigators asked Marcum if she ever came across servers doctoring diners' receipts and helping themselves to larger tips.

"I've heard stories," Marcum said. "But I've never worked with anyone that has ever done that. But I've heard stories from my customers."

Marcum said if she did catch one of her co-workers cheating a diner out of a larger tip, she'd go to her bosses.

"That's horrible. Very, very bad."

Tommy's Diner, as do most restaurants, has servers punch in every transaction into a computer. That information is then cross-checked against paper receipts for any discrepancies.

When it comes to protecting yourself against deceitful servers, consider the follow tips:
     - Make sure you sign the receipt.
     - Fill in the tip line and the total line. If you are not putting a tip on your card, write "cash" or draw a line through the tip line.
     - Keep a copy of your receipt.
As the anonymous waitress said, "if the customer isn't checking their credit card account, if they're not keeping their guest copy, taking it home and checking it back with their checking account, they're not going to know."
She offered another tip for diners:

"Be generous in the first place. Tip 15 to 20 percent, because I don't think any server is going to try to pull one over on you or be out to get you if you're being appropriate with your tipping."

If you would like to see more of ABC 6 Chief Investigator Tom Sussi's no-holes barred interview, please click here.

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