Police chief warns of latest scam targeting restaurants
I have received information from two restaurants in town that a hearing impaired person contacted their business, ordered large catering jobs, and requested extra cash be placed on the bill to pay for another party vendor.
The way this works is that a person text messages or emails, claiming to be hearing impaired and makes a large catering order.
The telltale give away in the text messages or emails is improper English. The text messages from the latest scam came from phone number 201-252-7351. This phone number originates from a disposable phone and is basically untraceable.
Other signs that this is not legitimate include:
• The person requesting to pay for the catering up front. Most businesses require a deposit and the balance be paid in full once the food is delivered. Most people aren’t insistent the bill be paid up front.
• The person requires extra money be placed on the credit card in order to pay for such items as tables and linens for a different vendor. Unless this is part of the catering agreement and part of your normal business, be leery. For instance, if the food bill is $300 and the person wants to add another $200 charge for chair rentals, the restaurant is running a credit or debit card for $500.
• The person wants to send a courier to your business to pick up the extra cash, the $200 chair rental in the above example, in order to pay another vendor.
Most businesses accept debit or credit card payments and it would be just as easy to make two separate transactions on a card than messing around with a third party courier. Fairfield does not have a courier business in town. Why would you trust an unknown third party to handle that amount of cash?
• The person will not provide any details such as where and what time the catering job is to take place. The caller stated he would provide these details once the courier picked up the money. The most recent scam wanted a catering on Thanksgiving Day when the business was closed.
• The credit card transactions have not been going through or the transaction is denied. The caller will then provide various different cards, Master Card, American Express or Visa. The transactions are denied because the cards have been reported stolen or have been cancelled.
All restaurant owners should be diligent verifying the information that is provided when the catering job is booked.
Restaurant owners should make sure the address given actually exists or verify with another business owner that a party has been booked at their facility. Never, ever give out cash.
Don’t be surprised the caller knows something about your business. The caller has done his homework and knows what type of food your business specializes in.