5 F&B operators lose $73,500 this month to fake 'customers' asking for expensive off-menu items

At least five local food and beverage (F&B) operators have lost a total of at least $73,500 this month to a new scam where they received calls from “customers” making reservations and asking for off-menu items to be purchased from a fake supplier.

The police said the F&B operators would receive calls from “customers” whose phone numbers show a "+" prefix.

These "customers" would then reserve many tables and ask for expensive off-menu items. The victim would be provided with the contact details of a fake supplier for these off-menu items and would be informed that the these items have been paid for.

In some instances, the "customers" would send a forged screenshot showing funds being transferred to the F&B operator's bank account. Victims would then be directed to contact the fake supplier, where they would make payments to order the items requested by the "customer".

Victims would only realise that they had been scammed when they discovered that they did not receive any funds from the "customer", or when the off-menu items were not delivered and/or the "customer" becomes uncontactable.

The police advise F&B operators to take the following precautions when receiving reservations from overseas customers:

  • Ask for a local contact to liaise with for the reservation. The "+" sign prefix indicates that it is an international incoming call. Domestic calls will not display the "+" sign prefix.
  • When dealing with new suppliers, avoid making payments or deposits in advance. Arrange to meet the supplier and pay only upon delivery of the goods.
  • Search online for reviews of suppliers to establish their legitimacy before committing to a purchase.

If you have information related to such crimes or if you are in doubt, please call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or submit it online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. Please dial ‘999’ if you require urgent police assistance.

For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688.