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A payment scam is wreaking havoc in restaurants

Customers and restaurateurs are victims of a well-established scam. The scam goes completely unnoticed by both parties.

Appearing for the first time a few weeks ago, the scam in question seems to be emulated in France, where the number of reports has increased in recent days. The scam is so well thought out that it’s not uncommon for restaurant owners to not even notice they’ve been cheated for several days.

In Cannes, several establishments have noted anomalies in their turnover, with income much too low compared to their estimates. Crooks have developed a technique to replace restaurant payment terminals and thus redirect payments to account numbers that were in their hands. Customers pay the bill on an account external to the company from a replacement terminal. The real terminal then returns to its place as if by magic. If skilled, scammers are able to go unnoticed for several days/weeks. It is generally only by doing the accounts, at the end of the month or quarter, that some restaurateurs notice the anomaly.

According to the French press, it is the tourist places and the most courted establishments that are generally targeted. The National Police is investigating this relatively new phenomenon. However, it is not easy to find the culprits since they most often act in the shadows and redirect payments to accounts that are changed regularly, sometimes passing large sums between several dozen bank accounts.

The restaurateurs who are victims of this scheme are unfortunately not entitled to compensation. It is therefore necessary to be careful for them, by using personalized payment terminals for example, and by regularly checking the data that appears on the tickets, to ensure that the payments arrive on the right account. The National Police encourages restaurateurs to add stickers and drawings to terminals to make things more difficult for scammers.

At present, the scam has already affected several dozen establishments in France. It is likely to spread rapidly beyond the country’s borders as well.

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