Some people are willing to spend an obscene amount of money on their weddings, and businesses can really cash in on others’ extravagance. Say, for example, you own a restaurant where someone wants to get married: You can make tens of thousands of dollars off hosting The Big Day. Even with the hassle of logistics and the preparation necessary for a large event, it can be a great way to make money.
A restaurant in Pennsylvania reported it collected $110,000 for a 300-person, island-themed wedding it hosted in June 2014. The cake alone reportedly cost $10,000.
The wedding never happened, though. It was the cover story for what ended up being $160,000 in fraudulent credit card purchases, for which two men will now go to prison, reports the Morning Call (Allentown, Pa.).
Irene Remache, the now-former owner of Valley Family Restaurant in Bethlehem Township, Pa., claimed to have hosted the wedding reception, but American Express fraud investigators visited the venue and concluded it could not have possibly accommodated the event. Remache’s father also said such an event could not have happened, the Morning Call reports. Investigators said the fake wedding bill was intended to cover up purchases made with stolen credit card information.
The report doesn’t indicate who or how many victims there were of the fraud, but stolen credit card numbers aren’t that hard for fraudsters to come by. The credit cardholders generally aren’t liable for unauthorized purchases, though fraudulent activity can mess up a person’s credit standing if the transactions go unnoticed and end up on credit reports. The prevalence of data breaches and credit card fraud is one of the many reasons consumers should regularly check their credit (you can check two of your credit scores for free every 30 days from Credit.com).
Remache, 42, avoided criminal conviction for her role in the scheme as part of a first-time-offenders program and by eventually cooperating with investigators, the Morning Call reports. Her former boyfriend Marcos M. Diaz, 30, and his cousin, Jonathan J. Hernandez, 22, were each sentenced to six months in jail and three years probation, after pleading guilty to device fraud. The three (and a fourth participant, Steven C. Casas, 31, who has yet to be sentenced), must repay the $160,000.