Restaurant Reservation Credit Card Scams Proliferating

Is this the logical successor to restaurant text message spam? As if being constantly assaulted by deposed Nigerian royalty isn't enough, San Francisco is seeing a rash of restaurant reservation scams:

"A Scottish offshore engineering company wants to book three consecutive nights for a party of 15. Great -- things progress normally -- deciding on how many courses, pricing, etc. I wasn't expecting them to pre-pay but then they said they wanted to give us a deposit of $2,000 to hold the reservation with the balance to be paid by the group leader the night of. All fine.

"But then, they wanted to send us a bunch of money that we would have to then pay to the transportation/limo company because the transportation company's credit card machine was down and they were oh-so-sorry that they couldn't wire the money directly to the limo company, but they were on an offshore oil rig and could not complete the wire transaction.

"I'm sure it involves stolen credit cards and money that goes back to their 'limo company.' It becomes fishy pretty quickly but I have to admit I got excited about 3 early week, pre-paid parties of 15."

The oil rig/limo company setup is pretty obviously a scam, and we're glad this particular restaurateur didn't fall for it. But at the same time, we worry that some nice and unsuspecting mom-n-pop shop is going to take the bait, which is especially shiny and attractive in these downsloping economic times. The usual warnings apply — hey kids, never agree to engage in third-party monetary transactions brought to you by offshore strangers from the internet!

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