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updated 8/18/2011 3:48:49 PM ET 2011-08-18T19:48:49

Make sure you tip your waitress — or she might copy your credit card and swindle you out of $5,000.

Police in Port Richey, Fla., arrested Kathryn Shana'e Perez, a 25-year-old Florida waitress for her part in a credit card skimming ring that duped customers at the Mugs 'N Jugs sports bar where she worked.

Using a tiny card skimmer given to her by her cousin, Brandon Quillen, Perez copied customers' cards and gave the new fraudulent ones to Quillen's 22-year-old ex-girlfriend, Rebecca Pixton, who then bought more than $5,000 worth of goods from local Radio Shacks and Walmarts.

[How to Protect Your Debit Card From Skimming Scams]

Quillen and Pixton were also arrested; the three face multiple charges, including fraudulent use of a credit card. It is believed Perez used the skimming device at Mugs 'N Jugs between May 30 and June 23.

Detective John Suess of the Pasco County Sheriff's Department told the New Port Richey TV station WTSP that during questioning, Perez said she targeted victims that "ran her around, made her work real hard."

One of the skimming victims, Denise Remington, said her account incurred three separate fraudulent charges totaling around $3,700. Remington said she could tell by Perez's demeanor that the waitress was up to something potentially suspicious.

"She couldn't look you in the face when she waited on you, she didn't greet you, she took a long time to come back to the table, she didn't say thank you," Remington told local station WTSP.

Victor Searcy, director of fraud operations for Identity Theft 911, suggested several ways to stay safe when handing over your credit card to a stranger such as a waitress, or when using an ATM.

"Keep an eye on your card when it's in the hands of others," Searcy wrote. "It may be hard to do, but watch the clerk or server using your debit/credit cards to ring up purchases."

To keep your account safe when using ATMs, Searcy advises users to "pick a machine that's indoors or near a public area. Skip ATMs with unusual signage, such as instructions to enter your PIN more than once to complete a transaction."

He also wrote, "Protect your PIN. Cover the keyboard as you enter your PIN to prevent a passerby or a secret camera from capturing it.

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