No, nothing to do with a particularly messy night out in the company of George Michael, as the above ad, taken from one of those 1960s East Kent Critics that our local Biblio-Bloke put up on his excellent thanetonline blog a while back, might suggest.
No, this is something altogether more serious. I've heard from a few of my contacts in the Thanet restaurant trade that an internet scammer is doing the rounds, sending out emails requesting block bookings over the festive season. Here's a typical example:
I am Dr. Allen Bradley ,the director of Staff welfare MCL Offshore UK Ltd. I want to book dinner for my group of workers .
They will all come for dinner in your place as from December 2nd, 3rd, 4th by 6:30pm each day.
They are 15 in number.Get back with your response if there is availability in your restaurant.
Dr. Allen Bradley
Tel : +447045705287
From the weird grammar, phrasing and punctuation, you might possibly have smelt a rat already. If not, and you respond, this is what you get:
Many thanks for your response.We will appreciate if you prepare a 3 course menu for my group for the dinner No special dietary.
We will be happy for any suggestion you may render since this is our first dinner in your restaurant
Kindly provide the total cost of the dinner for the 15 persons for the 3 night dinner so as to provide my credit card details for full payment confirmation.
Your response will be appreciated.
Dr. Allen Bradley
Mobile Number : +447035962564
You really should have twigged something's up by now, but continue the correspondence and here's the clincher:
Thanks for your reply and assistance so far and we will book for the dinner.I will make a payment deposit of Euro 2,000 which will cover their meals and drinks in advance because we are not sure of what your guests might like to drink or how much they are likely to consume.
Moreover, we were able to make an arrangement with a pre-paid car hiring agent who will supply the guests with vehicles that will be used by the guests to and for your place. So in order not to share my credit card information with a third party, I have decided that only you will have to handle my credit card information.
More so, the prepaid agent and do not have the facility to make a manual charge to a credit card if not present. On my own side, I would have sent him his money directly, but am on the high sea work on an OIL RIG. There are no bank or moneygram here where I can make payment directly to the agent.
So once you are in receipt of my credit card details,you are required to charge the total amount of Euro 9,000 + processing fees on my card,then deduct Euro 2,000 as initial payment deposit for the dinner(meals and drinks) and send the balance of Euro 7,000 to the prepaid car / ticketing agent whose information I will forward to you once this is confirmed.
Confirm this and provide me with your
(1) YOUR FULL NAME
(2) FULL ADDRESS
(3) PHONE NUMBERS for office record.
All checks and balances shall be done with the group leader on the final day of their dinner.
Please be advised that we shall pay for all expenses and fees incurred as a result of the entire amount to be charged.
Dr. Allen Bradley
Tel : +447035946663
Mobile : +447035948143
Fax : +447075020654
Your response at this point really should be F*CK YOU, DICKWAD! Because, of course, what will happen is that he'll send you his (fraudulent) credit card details, but will force you to make the transfer to his 'car-hiring agent' (him or his mate) before you can put the transaction through. So you'll be down €7000, as the credit card will turn out to be a fake and worth nought. Oh, and he'll have your personal details too, so he can start cloning your identity.
There are all kinds of variations on this little earner. And although 'Dr Allen Bradley' or 'Allan Brad' seem to be his preferred monikers, he sometimes uses a foreign name to disguise the poor English. He's even been known to do this over the telephone. But his MO always seems to be the same - multiple restaurant bookings.
So be warned, bar owners and restaurateurs of Thanet! If someone wants to book a huge table three nights on the trot, it could be an early Christmas present. In all likelihood, however, it'll leave you with a very expensive hangover in the New Year!
Click here to read more about the 'Dr Allen Bradley' restaurant scam