RESTAURANT VICTIMS OF SCAMS: THE WORST CASES
In recent years, restaurants have been victims of several swindles. Here are the three most used by scammers to trick restaurant owners.
All right, restaurateurs have their faults, but they also pay their due (the Venetian restaurant that charged Japanese tourists with a bill of 1143 euros for four steaks and a mixed grilled fish plate, had to pay a fine of 20,000 euros). And if it’s been ten years since you’ve heard of scammed Japanese (who knows why the victims are always Japanese people?), it is also true that anti-fraud methods have been created and honest restaurateurs condemn certain behaviors.
But while we know a lot about restaurant scams, how many of us know those of which the businesses are the victims? Here then, are the three main scams perpetrated against them in the last five years.
1. The wine scam
A distinguished lady calls a restaurant. In general, the victims are medium-high level businesses, although there is no lack of other types of restaurants. The lady, elegant and with perfect diction, says to the restaurateur that she would like to dine in the restaurant to celebrate an important event (an anniversary, a business dinner, etc.). To be even more credible, she lists the name of regular or special customers and then asks for the possibility to order a specific type of wine. Of course, a great wine, a sought-after Bordeaux that is difficult to find. Immediately after, she leaves her number to the restaurateur, with the request to let her know if the supplier of the activity has it. Often the supplier does not, so the unfortunate victim calls the lady to tell her. At this point, the scammer gives the mobile number of a person who can bring the wine to the restaurant. Shortly, the delivery is made, and the very high-quality wine is paid for considerable sums. The invoice? The courier gets away, saying he will send it later. Too bad, though, in the box, there are very cheap wines. Once the restaurateur realizes that got scammed, he tries to track down the woman, whose mobile number will already be off.
In recent times, this scam happened in Italy in Emilia Romagna. The last to be swindled was an entrepreneur from Reggiolo, while a fifty-year-old con man from Chieri headed the gang.
2. Restaurant runaways
There are so many versions of this type of scam, also know as eat-and-run customers. And yet, in this case, we have unexpected protagonists. Imagine a decent family. Two young, well-dressed, well-groomed, enter a seafood restaurant with their two babies. After eating everything, the wife gets up and takes one of the children with her. The restaurateur will not be alarmed: it is normal for a mother to go outside the restaurant to calm her young son. After a while, her husband also gets up carrying the other child. Even here, the staff won’t be worried about it, because the clothes and toys of the children remain on the table. Time passes, though, and nobody comes back. When it is clear that they have escaped, the staff will realize that the toys are broken while the coats are old and worn.
3. The fake customer finder
This scam needs the skill and ability to have a foot in both camps. In this case, in fact, the scammed are both the customers and the owner of the business. That is, the scammer introduces himself to the restaurateur as a customer finder, agreeing to bring new clients. In the evening, therefore, he arrives, pointing to a big table and pretend to have brought them. Then he introduces himself to the guests as the restaurant owner. At some point, the scammer approaches the counter, talks for a while with the owner, and returns to the table with the bill. Once the cash is collected (no credit card: “The pos is broken”), he pretends to go out for a cigarette and vanishes. When the real owner shows up at the table to present the real bill, the scam will be revealed.
This post is also available in: Italiano (Italian)