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Over-payment scam targeting restaurant industry through social media channels

An Events Manager is warning of a new scam targeting Perth’s restaurant industry through social media channels.

Brooke Lingard works with The Old Laundry Bar and Kitchen in North Perth and said it was recently contacted by two people trying to run the same dodgy play.

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“The first scammer contacted the restaurant through their email address on the website and asked to place an order for food, $2,000 worth, to pick up,” she said.

“They then go through the process of looking through the menu and choosing their selection and even to the point of giving us their credit card details.”

But then Ms Lingard said the red flags started appearing, and her instincts against scams kicked in.

“They then told us that their florist for their event doesn’t have credit card facilities and could we charge their card an extra $2,000 and then transfer that to their florist’s bank account,” she said.

“Very obviously a scam. I tried to fish for more details to pass over to the fraud police but he’s obviously very good at what he does.”

A second scammer tried to place the same dodgy order, but the team at The Old Laundry quickly shut it down.

Variations of this scam have been doing the rounds for years, with Ms Lingard recalling her own parents had been targeted in a similar way.

“My parents used to run a B&B and there were people saying they wanted to pay for their accommodation and their car hire in one go so they tried a similar thing.

“It seems obvious when you have experience with it, but there may be people out there who are not so wary.”

“I’d hate to see a local restaurant fall for such a scheme.”

WA’s Department of Commerce said the scheme is classed as an overpayment scam, which usually relies on stolen or fake credit cards.

Usually the order is substantial to make it attractive for the targeted business to cooperate, and usually the transactions are made before the business realises the payment method is fake and they find themselves out of pocket.

To check any suspicious messages, people are encouraged to check the Department of Commerce’s ScamNet page, which has this advice on overpayment scams:

  • Never agree to a deal in which the buyer wishes to issue an amount for more than the agreed price, and expects you to reimburse the balance
  • Never accept a cheque or money order, and then turn around and send part of the money back
  • Don’t assume that the cheque or money order is legitimate just because your bank accepts it for deposit. It takes time to clear an overseas cheque
  • Always seek authorisation from the credit card issuer to ensure the card is not stolen
  • If they want to use an escrow company (a third party which holds the money until the item is delivered), select your own. Their “escrow company” may be bogus
  • Remember, these scammers are conmen and are expert at coming up with plausible reasons and excuses.