Are there new targets for scams?
Yes, we often see a shift of focus for scams. For example, for years seniors were the primary target for telemarketing crooks, until they learned to say “No” and hang up. Young people are now the primary target of identity thieves. Then the crooks moved to the Internet where we see various groups being targeted. However, anyone who owns a computer may be targeted by crooks. These same crooks are now finding a new target for their frauds. Restaurant owners. We have heard from a number of restaurant owners about various scams. One example is the caller who claims to be with the police and is trying to find a crook who is passing stolen credit cards. The restaurant owner is asked to provide a list of credit cards used by customers within the last week. Of course this is just an attempt to steal credit card numbers.
What are some other types of scams targeting restaurants?
There are the scams involving food. One e-mail was for a lunch reservation for 25 people from a research institute in India. The sender wanted to send a deposit check for $10,000 with part of the money being forwarded on to a third party who would arrange transportation for the group. Of course, the restaurant owner was asked to deposit the money in her account, keep $3,000 to cover the cost of the lunch and wire the remainder to the transport people. Sure, and she could kiss $7,000 goodbye. This is a variation of the fake check or money order scam. Another scam involved a man who claimed he wanted to order food for his wife’s birthday party. He wanted to charge the payment to his credit card. After two credit card charges were denied, a third card was accepted for the charge. However, he wanted to charge an additional $650 to the order and have the amount sent to a third party who would handle the delivery of the food. Guess what, the credit card was stolen, the whole thing was an attempt to defraud the restaurant owner. Fortunately, these restaurant owners were sharp enough to realize they were being targeted by crooks. However, we do hear from people who weren’t as fortunate. Once money has been sent to a crook, there is nothing we can do to recover the loss.
Are these scams quite common?
According to a number of owners, they are frequently targeted by scams. The crooks realize restaurants have been affected by the economic downturn and prey upon their need for business.
Many of these scams have certain characteristics:
- The scam involves a significant sum of money.
- The payment is for an amount greater than the total of the purchase.
- The restaurant owner is instructed to do a wire transfer of part of the payment to a third party.