Crime

Scam caller costs North Idaho restaurants hundreds of dollars in pizza orders

Restaurants in North Idaho reported last weekend that a pizza prankster placed to-go orders for dozens of pizzas and refused to pick up the food.
Restaurants in North Idaho reported last weekend that a pizza prankster placed to-go orders for dozens of pizzas and refused to pick up the food. Little Caesars

Restaurants in North Idaho reported last weekend that a pizza prankster placed to-go orders for dozens of pizzas and refused to pick up the food, resulting in hundreds of dollars in losses.

Flame & Cork owner Connie Young said the Hayden-based restaurant received a call early Saturday evening from a man requesting a to-go order for 24 pizzas.

When Young told the caller she could make 16 pizzas, the man placed a $375 order for pickup at 9 p.m., just before the restaurant closed for the evening.

“We made all the food, and he didn’t show up,” she said.

Young said she attempted to call and text message the man about the food order, to which he responded, “You’ve been dunked.”

Young reported the incident to the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department.

She said in the future she plans to reconsider accepting large to-go orders on busy nights without a credit card payment.

“We’re a small family business. We’ve never had this happen before, so we didn’t require people to give credit cards (for to-go orders),” she said. “But now, on orders over $50, we are going to require a credit card over the phone.”

Capone’s Pub and Grill in Coeur d’Alene indicated it received a “very large” to-go order on Saturday from a phone number registered in California. The caller didn’t pick up the order or respond to attempts when the restaurant tried to call, according to its Facebook page.

Radicci Italian Bistro in Hayden also filed a police report with the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office indicating a man called from a phone number registered in California on Saturday evening to order 25 pizzas for a company function.

“I know he was looking on our website trying to figure out what we could offer,” said Daniel Morey, owner of Radicci’s. “He ordered our largest pizzas and gluten-free stuff that cost more money as well.”

Morey said he questioned the caller about the company and attempted to write the name down, but it was during a busy time at the restaurant.

“I realized I should have pursued payment, but didn’t,” he said. “We were trying to figure out how we were going to pull that (order) off on a Saturday night.”

When Morey called the man back to request a credit card payment, he immediately hung up. That’s when Morey realized the restaurant had been scammed for $443.

“We are a new business and we are just trying to pay debt,” Morey said. “I’m working insane hours as it is to keep things afloat and basically, it’s just a joke for this guy.”

Morey posted Radicci’s had been scammed on the restaurant’s Facebook page Saturday evening, advertising the pizzas for $5.

“Within the first half hour of us posting that, all the pizzas were gone,” he said. “We heavily discounted them and, literally, people just kept flooding in. Customers heard what happened and some paid full price, so that was a bit humbling.”

The sheriff’s Office is investigating the incidents – which were connected to the same phone number – as a crime known as “theft of services.”

The Coeur d’Alene Police Department also confirmed two complaints were filed by restaurants reporting similar scam calls.

“My hope is they do find the person and there is some consequences to these actions,” Young said.

Morey said support from the community has been wonderful since the incident, with donations pouring in from people living as far away as Utah and Chicago.

“That’s pretty amazing for the community to step in and do that,” he said.

Morey said is reviewing policies for accepting credit cards for large to-go orders at Radicci’s.

He advises restaurant owners to ask questions if they receive a phone call for a large to-go order.

“If it doesn’t make sense, ask more questions,” he said.

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