It’s always enjoyable to read about a new scam, especially when that scam was perpetrated, in part, with the help of the very newspaper that’s constantly publishing scam warnings.
Of course, we’re talking about The Chronicle’s Michael Bauer, and his recent reportage on con “artists” targeting restaurants. Seems somebody who he deems “clever” (we disagree) has been using the information in the Chron for nefarious deeds (or at least trying to):
An opportunistic “entrepreneur” took the names of some of Denham’s past employers, detailed in the [Nov. 26 Inside Scoop] column, and tried to make a few bucks.
A man called the reservation number at Manresa, where Denham once worked, and asked to speak to chef-owner David Kinch, saying he was Denham and had an emergency. When Kinch answered, the person gave an Oscar-worthy performance, saying he (Denham) was stuck in Oakland because his car was towed. He had no money and desparately needed cash.
The excitable voice went into great detail about how he had parked in a handicapped zone, but didn’t realize it was restricted parking because the curb had been sandblasted so it could be repainted. He said he couldn’t get to his car or his BlackBerry, which was inside, and he needed $731.28 wired to a woman named Edith Parker.
Intrigue! Though not quite as elaborate, or high-aiming as that last one he wrote up. This one is more like a slightly slicker version of a panhandler with an elaborate story.
However, it seems to bear pointing out that restaurants are hardly the only ones ever in the “victim” column in these hospitality-industry scams. There was that case of the Home Menu restaurant owner who charged his customers’ credit cards again and again and again. There has also been pretty well-documented short-pouring going on all over this great land. And just today, The Feedbag reported on some pretty sharp dealing by chefs selling “whole” chicken dinners.
Then there was that lady who was going around stealing purses in all sorts of San Francisco restaurants. And don’t forget the a-holes who just run in and grab a tip jar.
So yes, restaurateurs should be careful, and so should customers. In fact, let’s just all remember that the outside is a big, scary place, and that if you go out in it, somebody will take advantage of you.
More clever restaurant scams [Between Meals]
Restaurant owner charged in credit card scam [ABC]
The Sin Of Ommission Of Beer [MenuPages SF]
Memo to Chefs: A “Whole Chicken” Means a Whole Chicken! [The Feedbag]
Alleged S.F. purse thieves arrested [SF Examiner]
[Photo: via I Can Has Cheezburger]