Spanish Tapas Restaurant in Somerset Falls Victim to Fraudulent Bookings
Lo Rapitenc, a popular Spanish tapas restaurant located in Frome, Somerset, has recently been targeted by a heartless fraudster who orchestrated a series of fake bookings. Despite being fully booked for 40 diners on a Saturday night, the restaurant was left with a mere 13 regular customers who showed up.
The owner of Lo Rapitenc, Marc Brunet Pascual, expressed his dismay, describing the incident as either a cruel joke or a deliberate attempt at sabotage. Recognizing the severity of the situation, the restaurant promptly reported the incident to the police, and Avon and Somerset Police have been contacted for their input on the matter.
The repercussions of the hoax bookings have been devastating for the restaurant. Not only was a significant amount of food wasted, but the anticipated earnings for the evening were also lost, posing a significant threat to the livelihood of the establishment.
Mr. Brunet Pascual became suspicious when four guests failed to show up on Thursday night, and it was discovered that the telephone number provided during the online bookings was falsified. However, the situation escalated over the weekend when a booking was made under an offensive name, accompanied by a disrespectful message.
“The bookings were steadily increasing this week, and they were quite diverse: gluten intolerances, vegan customers with allergies, and various other bookings that initially didn’t raise any alarms,” explained Mr. Pascual.
On the night in question, the first set of diners failed to materialize, followed by subsequent bookings. Mr. Brunet Pascual attempted to contact all the guests, but only one phone number proved to be authentic. Finally, he managed to speak to someone who confessed to orchestrating the entire scheme with the intention of causing maximum harm to the restaurant.
“This person took pride in telling me how they deliberately targeted my establishment and enjoyed planning the attack. It’s truly unsettling because we are a family-run business, and it feels like a violation,” Mr. Pascual shared.
Fortunately, not all the prepared food went to waste. Mr. Brunet Pascual decided to distribute some of it among loyal customers, friends, and family. Nonetheless, the financial loss incurred due to the absence of paying customers has had a significant impact on the business.
“Digesting this incident has been extremely difficult because, currently, the High Street is quiet during the week, and we rely on weekends to generate income. Moreover, the psychological toll of being targeted for no apparent reason is substantial,” expressed Mr. Pascual.
While the police have acknowledged the complexity of investigating such crimes, Mr. Brunet Pascual is determined to explore improved methods of verifying customers through the online booking system. Additionally, he plans to personally contact all customers two days prior to their reservation to confirm their authenticity.
“I want to believe that this was an isolated incident,” Mr. Pascual added.
Although the identity of the fraudster remains unknown, it is believed that they are associated with a company in the Belfast area.