Customers say they were overcharged hundreds of dollars at restaurant in Elizabeth

by: Scott Wickersham Updated:


CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A viewer emailed Channel 9, saying people had hundreds of dollars charged to their credit cards at a popular Elizabeth restaurant.

Eyewitness News looked for fraud complaints at police headquarters and found two reports from the restaurant, both alleging credit card fraud.

Two people say they were overcharged, one by $230 and the other by $710 at Smalls restaurant last week.

Then, it suddenly closed on Friday.

When Eyewitness News was there on Wednesday, Tammy McLeymore came walking up. She said at lunch last Thursday, a waitress told her their machine was not working right and just wrote her debit card number down.

“I went to get money this morning (and) they said I had insufficient funds. $553 and (it) was supposed to be $10, “McLeymore said.

Eyewitness News also met Eric Stewart, who said he's a business partner with Smalls' owner Joe Dileo.

“We came over here Friday because I was looking for him. He wouldn't return calls,” he said.

That business partner did not want to be interviewed further on camera, but said he thinks Dileo is looking for investors to keep the business afloat.

Eyewitness News emailed Dileo, and he said a disgruntled worker came in after-hours and ran the credit cards. He also said it could be one of three people and that he's trying to find out who before calling police.

Dileo also said the restaurant closed down because it was not hitting good numbers.

Customer Jerrod Eckler said he thinks that sounds plausible.

“I know the owner -- he is a nice guy,” he said. “Must have been a bad waiter or waitress.”

But the shutdown right after the card charges all sounds too coincidental for McLeymore. She thinks there's more to the story.

“I live on an honesty scale,” she said. “I expect honesty.”

Police will only say they are investigating the two cases.