NEW YORK – An ambitious and organized identity-theft ring recruited waiters at steakhouses and other high-end restaurants to steal diners’ credit-card information, then used it for luxury shopping sprees, authorities said Friday.

Some 28 people have been indicted on racketeering and other charges.

The group had waiters use so-called “skimming” devices to copy at least 50 restaurant-goers’ credit-card data surreptitiously while running their tabs at such powerhouse eateries as Smith & Wollensky and Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. said.

The ring made up counterfeit credit cards with the stolen information, then had associates fan out to buy watches, handbags and other merchandise at luxury stores including Chanel, Neiman Marcus and Cartier, authorities said. The group manufactured fake drivers’ licenses to back up its shoppers’ phony identities, and ringleaders accompanied them to direct the purchases, prosecutors said.

The group kept some of the loot for its own use and sold the rest.