Ordering from restaurants online or on their app is so popular these days, that most of us dont think twice about doing it.
But one Northern Kentucky woman has a caution before you place your next order.
Carole Rawlins recently decided to order dinner from Kitchen 1883,the chain of restaurants owned by Kroger.
"I clicked the button to order online, through Google, and I figured I had the right place," she said. "You go to Google and it looked right."
Rawlins --who works for our parent company, Scripps -- says she paid with a credit card, then drove to the restaurant, where a host had received the order but not her money.
"They said 'here's your order, now let's get your payment.'" she says. Stumped, she said "I told them I had paid online."
Rawlins says a manger told her she had stumbled upon a copycat website for the restaurant, which sent the order on to the restaurant, but kept her money.
"He told me 'we've been caught by a scammer's website, and it looked like you placed your order on that website,'" she recalls.
Easy to fall for copycat websites
It's frighteningly easy to fall for something like this.
You are at home, can't find anything to eat, so you grab your phone, Google a restaurant and click the first thing that pops up.
But it is a copycat site, right down to the photos of their food, in many cases.
The Better Business Bureau has issued a scam alert about these sites, saying "you click on the link, select your food, and charges appear on your account. But the website was a fake, and the scammers now have your credit card information and address."
The BBB suggests that you:
- Check a restaurant's website URL carefully. It should read "restaurant name.com" in most cases. You should also look for a padlock symbol next to the URL, which symbolizes it is a verified website to exchange payments on.
- If it is your first time ordering, call to see if they got your order.
- Pay with a credit card, not a debit card, Zelle or Venmo, where your money is gone instantly.
"I thought who's got my credit card information, and what's going to happen with it?" she said.
Luckily, Rawlins was able to dispute the charge, and replace her card.
Kroger, which owns Kitchen 1883, has yet to comment about what happened, though a manager at the restaurant told us he has had complaints of this happening several times in recent months.
The website Rawlins used appears to no longer be active, and clicks on it now just give a 404 error code.
But there are others, so if you are going to a restaurant site for the first time, be careful about what pops up first in a Google or Bing search, so you don't waste your money.
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