Scam artists targeting pubs with letting rooms

By Matt Eley Matt

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fraud, Money, Fuller

Pubs with rooms to let are being warned to be on guard against a scam that could cost them thousands of pounds. Craig Henry, tenant at Fuller's pub...

Pubs with rooms to let are being warned to be on guard against a scam that could cost them thousands of pounds.

Craig Henry, tenant at Fuller's pub the Three Horseshoes in East Worldham, Hampshire, was initially expecting to make a tidy profit after receiving an email regarding a Greek family that wanted to stay at the pub for 10 nights.

But after further investigation he found that instead of bringing in around £2,000 the deal could have cost him nearly £6,000.

In a convoluted follow-up email the person making the booking on behalf of the family, 'James Karl', asks the licensee to pay 6,500 Euros for a translator for the non-English speaking guests on his credit card and that will be reimbursed later on.

The email states: "I really need you to make the charges for the translator as he does not have a POS machines."

Craig said: "When this second email came through alarm bells started to go off.

"It is initially tempting because it is a lot of money being offered and so many people running pubs are desperate at the moment.

"I just want people to know about this because I think they will be targeting pubs with rooms."

The scam is a variation on one doing the rounds last year where licensees were being emailed by someone wanting to book tables for dozens of people for several nights on the trot.

The customer would then overpay for the booking and ask for a refund. But pubs ended up out of pocket because the bookings were made on fraudulent cards.

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses home affairs chairman, described the current scam as "disgraceful".

He said: "Research from the Federation of Small Businesses shows that small firms lose up to £800 a year to fraud and online crime such as this and in a recent survey, over half of respondents said they had been the victim of business crime over the past year.

"The internet is a huge and unregulated area but all small firms should ignore any emails offering money. Our advice to publicans would be: do not let customers dictate terms and have a clear policy when it comes to reservations."

The Publican​ attempted to contact 'James Karl' on an email address provided to the Three Horseshoes but we have yet to receive a response.

Related topics: Other operators

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