Online scam against restaurant owners

I just received the following e-mail which is clearly a scam. In the e-mail a purported company wants to make reservations at “your” restaurant. They ask for a set menu and offer to provide their credit card details for full payment.

Now, I’m not sure *how* this scam works exactly* – but I know it’s a scam because of several “clues”:

-The letter is written in the ultra-formal/non-idiomatic/contrived English that Nigerian/African scammers usually use.

-It purports to come from a representative of the company, but it uses a yahoo.com reply-to address. It’s sent, however, from a bluehost.com server.

-It does not name the restaurant where they are making the reservations, just calling it “your restaurant”. Same with the location of the restaurant, “your area”.

-There is no info online on “Exxon Energy Plc.”, and a search of the address or phone number lead nowhere.

Update Through the years the scam has gone beyond restaurants to include hotels, tour companies and even painters.  Please read through the comments for copies of scam letters sent by readers from all over the world.

I also learned how the scam works.  The scammer will make a big reservation/purchase from you.  He will then tell you that he also needs to pay someone else (limo drivers, transportation company, etc.) but for some reason he can’t do it directly, so he says he will pay you what he owes you plus what he owes the other company, and ask you to pay the other company for him.  He will then give you either a stolen credit card number or a fake check.  When your bank figures out that the credit card was stolen or the check was not good, it will require that you pay the falsely credit amount.  By then you will have paid the shipping company that is in cahoots with the scammer, and you’ll be losing a big chunk of money.

Date: Mon, 03 Aug 2009 09:05:36 -0600
To: marga@lacabe.com
Subject: Enquiry.
From: Stewart Graham <stgraham93@yahoo.com>

Hello,

I am Stewart Graham, Public Relations Officer (P.R.O) of Exxon Energy Plc. United Kingdom. Your restaurant has been approved by my company for dinner reservations for my workers visiting your area for a project, so i therefore want to book dinner for this group of workers.

They will all come for dinner in your place as from AUGUST 18th, 19th and 20th, 2009 by 8:00pm each day. They are fifteen (15) in number.

**NOTE THAT IT WILL BE THE SAME 15 GUESTS EACH NIGHT**.

We will appreciate if you prepare a 3 course menu for my group for the dinner. No special dietary. Also your suggestion will be appreciated since this is our first dinner in your restaurant.

Kindly provide the total cost of the dinner for the 15 persons for the 3 nights dinner so as to provide my credit card details for full payment confirmation if there is availability in your restaurant.

Your swift response will be appreciated.

Regards,

Stewart Graham
40 Lothian Road
EH3 9BY,
Edinburgh,
SCOTLAND.
Phone number:+44(0)7024014792

*NOTE Here is an explanation of how the scam works.