Couple Claims Waitress Forged a Tip: ‘Something was fishy’

May 29, 2019 Updated: May 29, 2019

A couple in North Carolina accused a waitress of forging her tip after they decided not to leave her one, raising awareness about what may be a common practice.

Gerald Lester was eating dinner with his wife and mother-in-law at Blue Asia in Wilmington, N.C., according to WECT-TV.

“It was $67 for the total, and in the tip, I had put zero because I was going to leave her a cash tip,” Gerald Lester told the station.

He said that he was going to leave her cash, but he then reconsidered because the service was poor.

“I was speaking to my wife and my mother-in-law, and they were like, ‘I don’t think she deserves a tip, we don’t need to give her a tip, just take it back,'” Lester added to WECT.

But after that, something didn’t seem right.

“So this morning, whenever I went to check my bank account because I just felt like something was fishy about it, like she was going to do something – she just gave me that vibe,” Lester said.

“I went to go check my bank statement, and, instead of the $67 which was holding, it now had a finalized payment for $80.”

Lester then called his bank, and someone with the bank said he has to go back and talk with the restaurant. When he spoke with Blue Asia’s owner, she handed over his receipt.

“And she says, ‘well here’s your receipt,’ and I looked at it, and as soon as I looked at it I knew it was forged, that it wasn’t mine,” Lester told the station.

They called the cops after the discovery. An official said they’d look into the matter.

The owner said she’s never seen anything like that before.

“Hopefully prevent that from happening to anybody else,” Lester said.

Last year, a restaurant in Roanoke, Va., is said to have forged a signature, changing the tip on a family’s receipt. A waitress had doubled her tip from 10 percent to 20 percent.

“It was almost a 25 percent tip, and then they go behind you and fraudulently sign a name to a credit card receipt. I don’t feel that’s any different than someone taking your debit card,” Whitney Anderson, the customer, was quoted as saying by the Daily Meal at the time.


How Much to Tip?

Everyone should know that the standard tipping fare is 15 to 20 percent of the pre-tax bill at a restaurant, but what about other places?

“Tipping is important. There are so many services where people aren’t even paid minimum wage,” says Debby Mayne, etiquette guide, according to AARP’s website. “The pizza delivery guy is out there braving the elements. There’s a reason why you didn’t go get that pizza yourself.”

According to AARP’s website:

Valet parking personnel

When your car is returned to you, it’s appropriate to tip the valet $2 to $5.


Stylists and barbers should be tipped a minimum of 15 to 20 percent of the service, and that tip can be split among others who assisted (for example, the shampoo person and colorist). Apply the same value to manicures, pedicures, massages and the like. Think the owner of the salon shouldn’t be tipped? Turns out that’s an old tradition. Owners today appreciate and will accept 15 to 20 percent.


If you work with a regular contractor who cuts you a break from time to time, you may be compelled to offer a tip. Most of the time it isn’t necessary to tip an electrician or plumber, Mayne says. “However, if they do anything extra or spend more time than expected, a tip is always appreciated, with the minimum being $20.”


For a local move (with no broken dishes), Mayne says $20 per mover is fair. If it’s long distance, consider offering more.


At a hotel, you’re expected to leave a little something for maid service, based on how many days you stayed. But what about at home? Tipping a house cleaner who’s employed not by you but by a cleaning service is optional. If you feel so inclined, 10 to 15 percent is acceptable. At holiday time, or if you’re particularly impressed by a job (the gunk was cleaned from all your liquid soap dispensers), increase it, but by no more than $20.