SCAM ARTIST

There is a person sending identical emails to many local restaurants containing a fake complaint about a negative experience with the goal of obtaining free gift certificates as “compensation.” They are even sending this message about dinner problems to restaurants that don’t serve dinner.

Here is the bogus email being sent around town:

To whom it may concern,

My friends and I came for dinner and I had to let you know about our experience. Unfortunately, we were very dissatisfied in both the taste and quality of the food we ordered and the service left much to be desired. I am hoping it was just an “off night”, because I have been a frequent customer and this has never happened before. I was the one who recommended the restaurant so it was kind of disappointing to say the least… I am hoping it was just an off day but thought you’d appreciate the “constructive” criticism over a negative review on yelp without giving you guys the chance to know first.

Sincerely,
Misty Moreton
mjmoreton@cox.net
1315 Orange Grove Rd
El Cajon, CA 92021

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18 Responses to SCAM ARTIST

  1. Tom Kottmeier says:

    Easy to fix, I would say… tell the scammer that you are really sorry and to show that you really want to show good faith the owner/manager would like to meet them in person, at which point it should be easy to determine whether they are a scam or not: ask them when they were in, what they had, because you want to go into the POS and really find out what happened, talk to the server who looked after them… the jig should be up pretty quickly… If restaurants could work together and see whether the scammer uses the same name every time, what they look like, take a picture, etc….?

    And don’t get me started on Yelp… I know a restaurant that complained that the bad reviews were always at the top of the list, called Yelp, and they said “we can fix that if you’ll subscribe…..”…. now is that a scam or what??? The mob would call it “protection”…

    Tom

  2. Bob says:

    Yelp is virtually useless, tons of kooks who signed up because they ate one bad meal or only want to trash a place for whatever reason, along with the friends and family of Restaurant XXX pumping a mediocre place up. I think Trip Advisor and Urbanspoon have a far more objective pool of participants. The best thing for all these sites (this one included) would be to take a diving-style judging system where the highest and lowest ratings get booted out of the equation. I mean, didn’t someone on this site just rate Moby Dick as 5 star food/5 star service?…….ummm, Moby Dick?

    • Lily says:

      You have to take everything posted on yelp with a grain of salt, but it doesn’t mean yelp is useless. When a restaurant has over 100 reviews, the fake reviews even out and the star system is a pretty good reflection of the quality of the restaurant. Yelp also has plenty of pictures, which are very informative for me in deciding where to dine.

    • Glenn says:

      It seems like every place gets a really good review and a really bad one. I think the ones you want to try are those that get predemonately good reviews which should be the purpose of this website in my opinion. Since John is a one man show I don’t think he has the time to screen out a hi or low from hundreds of restaurants. He does use a committee to screen reviews at times if need be if they are overly bad. I think you can spot the overly good ones, friends/family and take them with a grain of salt. I think yelp trumps trip advisor in my opinion(not enough ta reviews) but this site is great for local.

    • sbdude says:

      I signed up for Yelp to leave a good review for a business, so I’m not sure your negative generalization holds water, Bob. If you get the chance, you should read Yelp’s filtering process. They often do boot the most overtly negative or positive review, or those reviews made by people who have only posted one and then never logged in again.

      Full disclosure, I’ve nothing vested in Yelp. I frankly find it more user friendly and useful than Urban Spoon.

  3. Becca says:

    It seems fake because there are no specifics. I have learned from “friends” never to believe complaints without examples.

  4. Lisa Lee says:

    wow ! China Pavilion got one. I offered her a gift card , has not send out yet though. Thanks for the posting ! Lisa

    • Got one of those too. She wouldn’t provide details, and claims she’s a food blogger. Inane waste of time for us restaurateurs who have more important things to do. But we’re all in the same boat with regard to being vigilant about our online reputations. It’s just not right that people can post lies and misleading comments without full disclosure. The advent of Yelp just made this worse. Each and every online venue that allows “reviews” or “comments” about a business should require identification verification and disclosure. Anyone can say anything they want, true or not. The Yelp algorithm does not yield accurate results. There’s just to much B.S. on it.

      • Lily says:

        How do you propose this ID verification process be conducted? Driver’s license? Passport? Personal address? Utility stub? Limit comment section to only professional food critics? Even restaurants manned by world famous chefs have 1 star reviews, but it doesn’t matter because these fake reviews are drowned out by the numerous real reviews. The best thing restaurants should do is to encourage constructive criticisms because the more constructive reviews you have, the less impact a few fake reviews will have. Pace is a new restaurant in SB and they have a very high average rating. The quality is reflective of this high rating and the few negative reviews so far have little impact in damaging the restaurant’s current reputation.

      • Lily says:

        Lastly, I want to add that the duck ravioli and porcini mushroom sauce was ridiculously good.

  5. Tyler says:

    How nice of the people to come up with more crapola behavior.

    My husband, I, and another couple had a HORRIFIC experience a few years back in a high end restaurant but we took it to staff and management immediately to resolve the situation.
    This is what NORMAL people do. The establishments always want to ‘right’ wrongs.

  6. Beth Fairbairn says:

    I am a restaurant owner in Napa. Last night (9/25/12) this individual sent this exact complaint email to many Napa restaurants. We have forwarded this to our local district attorney and police department for fraud investigation as we have done in the past.

  7. lemonjelly says:

    Kudos for posting this scam. I hope it gets forwarded far and wide. What a shameful practice that hurts restaurants and patrons alike.
    John, it might even be a good idea to post the contact info the scammer provided. Up to you.

  8. Cristini says:

    Im am so happy to read that this was a scam. Although it does sadden me that people actually do this. I receive this same exact e mail on 9/13. I did respond by asking for all the details of her bad experience so that we could fix any problems. She came back with no real details, except she was here on Fri the 30th of Aug. I did not offer a gift cert as she would not give details of her complaint. I have yet to delete the emails from her so
    HERE YOU ALL GO! Her e mail address is mjmoreton@cox.net
    I know I will be e mailing her to tell her how much time and energy I wasted on this while dealing with the death of my father.

  9. SB says:

    We got this one too! Wow!!! I asked for details about the experience and nothing! Just that there were 4 people. I told here I would send a gift card. Good thing I saw this just in time.

    ——————-

    To whom it may concern,

    My friends and I came for dinner and I had to let you know about
    our experience.
    Unfortunately, we were very dissatisfied in both the taste and quality
    of the food we ordered and the service left much to be desired.
    I am hoping it was just an “off night”, because I have been a frequent customer
    and this has never happened before.
    I was the one who recommended the restaurant so it was kind of disappointing to say the least…
    I am hoping it was just an off day but thought you’d appreciate the “constructive”
    criticism over a negative review on yelp without giving you guys the chance
    to know first.

    Sincerely,

    Misty Moreton

    ——

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