restaurant scam

Someone is trying to scam restaurants into giving refunds for products they don't sell

Johnathon Boville, also known as "Chef Stuttering John" and the owner of Stuttering John's Smokehouse, was puzzled to receive an email Tuesday evening from someone claiming to be a customer and demanding a refund for two burgers he had ordered. 

The so-called customer and long haul truck driver told Boville he isn't usually one to complain, but that he and his wife had asked for no tomatoes on their burgers due to an allergy. As a result, he demanded a full refund from Boville in the form of an e-transfer, claiming that he had paid in cash and was not issued a receipt. 

"I laughed and kindly responded, which I never do," Boville told blogTO of his reaction upon receiving the email. 

"We knew it was spam because we don't serve burgers or even regularly have tomatoes for our sandwiches."

Boville responded to the scammer and bluntly called him out for being a fraudster, letting him know that his restaurant does not sell burgers and that he posted about the attempted scam in a number of Ontario restaurant owner Facebook groups. 

In the Food and Wine Industry Navigator Facebook group, where Boville posted one of several warnings, numerous other restaurant owners commented saying they had received similar messages from the same email address. 

Boville also told the scammer he was going to forward the message to his brother-in-law, who works for the RCMP, which he assured blogTO he actually did. 

The exchange eventually ended with the fraudster threatening to ram his transport truck into his shop. 

Boville's business, which he runs with his wife Georgia Zois, is a retail BBQ store with a hot lunch counter, pre-prepared meals and catering service located in Bowmanville, and they sell pork, brisket, chicken, sausage and ribs as well as sandwiches and sides — but never burgers.

"We were just a takeout and catering company but covid changed our business model dramatically," Boville told blogTO. "We all need to survive somehow."

He added that he has received fraudulent messages before, but they're typically to do with catering. 

Still, he said the phenomenon of fraudsters trying to scam restaurant owners out of money is rampant. 

"So many people have said they also receive spam fraud emails," he said.

But as someone who has dealt with these kinds of issues before, Boville has some advice for fellow restaurant owners who may be unsure about whether an email they received is a scam: just ask them to show up in person.

"We always deal with people in person or over the phone," he said. "Fraud[sters] or spam[mers] will usually never call directly or come into your store. Always ask them to stop by for a refund, they will always have a reason to not come in."

Lead photo by

Johnathon Boville 

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