Sadly, an email scam happens to chefs all too often. They are especially rampant during the holidays. Hopefully you are not one who has fallen prey to their deception, but sometimes an email scam is disguised so well it is easy to mistake them for a genuine prospect. Nothing is worse than getting your hopes up that you’ve found a new client and later finding out that you got swindled.
The United States Personal Chef Association has been great about creating a community where chefs can report an email scam they receive so that the whole group can be aware. In my private coaching Facebook group, I also post any email scams that I receive as a heads up to other chefs. It also gives us a good chuckle, because some of them are just plain ridiculous!
However, it is no laughing matter when you get screwed over by one of these folks, so here are some signs that you’ve received an email scam:
1) Poor grammar, sentence structure and weird punctuation
“Hello, i will like to know if you are available for Catering Services? if yes, my father birthday is on the 11th of March 2017. and i will like to know if you do accept credit card payment?”
“Im Edward Custer,i would like to know if you will be available to cater for my Mums Birthday on 9th of Apr,I await your respons,hope you accept credit cards for payment?..”
2) Traveling from a foreign country
Often, the person says they are traveling from a foreign country and that they are coming into town for a vacation with their family. They often specify your exact city or town. I have found that many of them say they are a deployed service member and are wanting to surprise their family with a party.
“Hi there, My brother and his wife currently live in Woodland Hills, CA, and for their Christmas present, I would like to get them a gift certificate for someone to come to their home and prepare them a lovely dinner on a mutually agreeable date . . . just wondering if this is something you would be able to do? And, if so, what would be the cost? I live in London, UK, so payment would either have to be through PayPal or credit card. Many thanks, Christine”
3) They profess to have disability
Often times the scammers profess to have a disability of some sort such as being blind, deaf, etc.
“Since I am blind, I must use a courier service. It would be easier to pay you the courier fee for the food that they will pick up and then for the other errands as well for the party. I will reimburse you once you send me a total.”
4) They often forget the details about what their initial inquiry
If you’ve ever followed up with one of these scammers (which hopefully you don’t) they often forget the details of what they originally asked you about. They will mix it up with someone else they are trying to scam.
5) They are either very vague or very exact in their details
I have found that they are either very vague when it comes to details or they are extremely detailed.
“I need to feed 35 people at $90 to $125 per person, buffet, with Caesar salad, grilled steak with chimichurri sauce, black and white cookies, etc.”
6) They normally quote their budget as being very high
Oddly enough, they often quote a very high budget to seem like a viable prospect. I have also found that they often want to pay you more than you are charging and then want you to reimburse them overage.