It is not unheard of for Chelsea footballers to be seen quaffing champagne off the pitch. However, when a high-end restaurant received a call asking for bottles to be sent via taxi to Lewisham, they were more than a little suspicious.
On the week of November 11, a man impersonating Chelsea player Fernando Torres attempted to swindle £3,000 worth of wine from the three-AA-rosette Winteringham Fields in North Lincolnshire, the restaurant revealed yesterday.
The impostor cited a dinner party with teammate Didier Drogba as the reason behind his request for bottles of Cristal and other champagnes to be sent to a property in Lewisham.
Throughout conversations with staff at the restaurant, the man used eight fake credit cards and demanded a refund once the restaurant asked for a bank transfer. The restaurant contacted their bank and had the transactions voided before any money had been transferred.
Bryony Johnson, the restaurant’s sales and finance manager, said: “We were lucky, but everything was so wrong when we started looking into it. We’re a small family business and this could have been extremely detrimental to us…We would have been liable for every penny so we could have ended up without the money and without the wine.”
The fraudster had initially contacted the Humberside restaurant to book a table, ordering £27,800 of wine to be served during the meal.
The Metropolitan police are currently investigating a series of wine scams that have seen Michelin-starred restaurants defrauded across the country. Pied à Terre, a central London eatery run by David Moore, was defrauded out of £12,000 of champagne in October of this year, whilst Cambridge’s Midsummer House lost £28,000 to fraudsters.
A spokesperson for Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber reporting centre, said: “Prior to accepting any card payments, retailers/restaurants should always seek fraud prevention advice from their payment service provider, who will have a wealth of information available to help them manage the associated risks and make informed decisions.”
Police are still searching for the perpetrators of these crimes.