Aug 8, 2017

Watch for Scams Targeting Restaurants

Alert: Scams Targeting Restaurants

Here are two scams targeting restaurants that WRA has been hearing about lately.

Phony Health Inspector Scam
A restaurant operator recently reported receiving a call from someone posing as a health inspector who was to inspect the restaurant later that afternoon. The caller asked the restaurant operator for checking account information or a credit card number.

Luckily they were suspicious and did not supply information to the fake inspector.

Keep in mind that anyone claiming to represent a restaurant inspector can be verified by calling the local health department. An inspector would not request financial information for payment by phone for any license fees.

Restaurant operators may be especially vulnerable as restaurant licenses are up for renewal.

If you receive a call like this, do not supply any account information and promptly get off the call. Advise your staff not to share any financial account information with anybody over the phone unless they are authorized to do so and then only with trusted business partners.

Reservation Scam Email
Since WRA staff members have been receiving these solicitations (probably because our email addresses have the word restaurant in them), we assume restaurants around the state are also getting this type of email.

Here is an example of a reservation scam email that WRA staff has received recently:


I want to make a booking reservation for some 8 adults at your restaurant once daily for 5 days

They will be coming to your restaurant for dinner on the 17th, to 21st of October 2017 on a 5 days.

They are 8 adults kindly advise if the dates are available so that i will send you my credit card details for a prepayment booking.

Best Regards

Prof. Helene Margaret B.

While it’s possible that group of distinguished travelers from overseas may be planning a trip to Wisconsin and making reservations at local restaurants, please use caution if you receive an email from an individual in a foreign country who is asking about reservations and pre-payment for holding the reservations.

The premise of “advance fee fraud” is that an individual will approach you via email asking to make a reservation for a group of people from a foreign country. He or she will provide a fraudulent overpayment to hold the reservation, cancel the reservation and request a refund of the difference with your (real) money! The scam works because of the delay between the money appearing as available in your bank and the payment actually being honored, which can take time with wire transfers. Because the prepayment was with stolen credit cards or a forged check, the account from which it was drawn will ultimately refuse payment.

The initial email may appear legitimate, but often as things progress the focus on prepayment becomes apparent. Other telltale clues are: poor grammar, irregular use of capitalization, use of title of profession to indicate their status (government official, doctor, scholar, etc.) to impress you and when referencing your business is it rarely referred to by name, just "your restaurant" or "your hotel."

Alert any staff who may handle email inquiries for your restaurant about this scam!

If you spot a scam, let WRA know so we can inform our members.