KLTV has reported nearly a dozen folks saw fraudulent charges on their credit card bills after eating at Asian Cafe in South Broadway's Woodcreek Shopping Center in Tyler.
Fraud happens all the time, but Tyler Police tell us all the victims not only ate at Asian Cafe on South Broadway, they sat at the same tables. Police don't know who at Asian Cafe might have been responsible, and the restaurant is now closed.
It's set to reopen, with supposedly new ownership and new employees. At least that's what the owner told KLTV. We dug deeper and found a connection remains.
Maurice Barnes is one of those patrons of Asian Cafe who thinks he was swindled.
"It's upsetting. You want to take your family out to dinner and you trust those will charge you right," he says.
Barnes and his family took a trip to Asian Cafe on Mother's Day.
"You get your bill in the mail and find there are charges on there that you have no idea how they got on there," Barnes describes.
There were several fraudulent charges, in California and New York, just days after eating at the restaurant. They've called police, who have yet to determine for sure whether the Barnes family is another victim of fraud. Maurice, however, is certain.
"We saw the story on TV, and it jarred our memory about eating there," he says.
Now the signs have gone up. It's China Bo chinese restaurant, to be open on Saturday. The owner, Zeng Xin Liu, came out to talk to us -- to reassure folks everyone's gone from the old Asian Cafe.
Anyone who might be a thief.
"Will they be working for you?" we ask.
Liu: "No, we don't know nothing before [the name change]."
Reporter: "So all new owners? All new people?"
Liu: "Yeah, all of them new." Liu told us he just came from Laredo and doesn't know the previous owner.
"I don't know what happened. I don't know. Before Asian Cafe, before you told me, I don't know what happened. I just buy [sic] the place, open a new business. That's it," he said.
But records from State Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn's office indicate there is a common thread: Mr. Liu himself.
The company that ran Asian Cafe, Lu's Buffet, Inc., and the company that will run China Bo, Liu and Lu, Inc., have the same address in Arlington.
Reporter: "You're saying there is no one with Asian Cafe that is connected in any way with China Bo?"
Liu: "No. We just want new everything -- everything new."
There's more. For both companies Mr. Liu is listed as a director.
In a phone conversation late Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Liu told KLTV he was never a director of the company operating Asian Cafe, and that there must be a mistake with paperwork on file with the state.
Tyler Police say they have not made any arrests and continue to investigate the cases of fraud, they have not released the identities of any suspects.
Maurice Barnes says trust is everything.
"I like to take my family to restaurants, and I like to take them to restaurants that when you eat, you'll get the right bill," he says.
But until the identity thief is caught, he'll keep looking at his statements, and choosing carefully where he swipes the plastic.
The Northeast Texas Public Health District says in filing paperwork for the new China Bo, Liu requested only a name change for the restaurant -- that there was no change of ownership.
As for the suspected fraudulent charges from Asian Cafe, police say so far they top $6,000.