Police warn of fake restaurant reservation scams during festive season

At least five F&B operators here lost a total of at least $73,500 in July this year due to these scams. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Food and beverage (F&B) operators that receive reservations this festive season that include bulk orders of expensive off-menu items may end up being scammed, the police warned on Tuesday.

They advised F&B operators to be alert to such scams and make checks before paying “suppliers” for the off-menu items. Scammers may make reservations and ask businesses to purchase off-menu items, such as expensive wine or seafood, in bulk from fake suppliers to defraud victims, the police said in an advisory.

At least five F&B operators here lost a total of at least $73,500 in July in such scams, the police said previously. The scammer, posing as a customer, would call an F&B operator to reserve many tables and ask for expensive off-menu items. The operator would then be given contact details of a fake supplier to buy these off-menu items.

The “customer” would inform the operator that a deposit or payment has been made to the latter’s bank account. In some instances, a forged screenshot showing funds being transferred to the bank account would be sent. After being directed to the fake supplier, the operator would order the items requested by the scammer and pay for them.

The operator would realise it has been scammed only when it discovers it has not received any funds, when the items are not delivered, or when the scammer becomes uncontactable.

The police advise F&B operators to be cautious and avoid making payments or deposits in advance when dealing with new suppliers. Instead, they should arrange to meet the suppliers and pay only after the goods have been delivered.

F&B operators should also search for online reviews of suppliers to check if they are legitimate before making a purchase, the police added.

For more information on scams, the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688. Those with information on such scams can call the police hotline on 1800-255-0000 or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness.

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