Carytown restaurant owner warns of scam

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A warning for restaurant owners who may become targets in a scam.  What looks like a legit catering order is really a ploy to get your hard earned money.

The owner of New York Deli in Carytown knew something wasn't quite right when an order came in for 200 hamburgers for a party. At first, he gave the caller the benefit of the doubt, then came a request for a money wire transfer. At that point, he knew it was likely a scam.

The order is a bit unusual.

"In the years I've been in the restaurant business I've never had anyone want to order 200 hamburgers to be delivered," said Demetrios Tsiptsis.

But Tsiptsis wanted to accommodate for a $1200 profit.

"I wasn't really sure it was a scam from the get-go, but there were things just questionable," said Tsiptsis.

Demetrios says it started as a phone order made through a service for the hearing impaired.

"Two hundred picnic style hamburgers and he would have a shipping agent pick them up," said Tsiptsis.

With coleslaw and pickles on the side. By email, Demetrios says the customer claimed the burgers were for his father's birthday party next month. Then came a request for Demetrios to add money to the catering bill.

"When he says I'll give you the credit card and all the information ahead of time, but can I add $900 extra to Western Union for the shipper then I realized, okay I know what this is," said Tsiptsis.

This has the makings of a telephone relay scam, according to the Better Business Bureau. The BBB warns in scams like this, the credit card number provided is likely stolen and any wired money will end up in the hands of the customer or scammer.

"We might be the only one, we might not be, but I would assume if they've gotten to this point with us they might think Richmond is rich for the pickings and probably target some other people," said Tsiptsis.

It's unknown if any other area restaurants have received similar orders.

Demetrios told the customer his credit card machine was down and suggested he pay in cash in person. The customer insisted the payment go through Western Union or International Money Gram.

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