Nation's Restaurant News reports today that a man in Atlanta was just busted for starting a high-profit reservation scalping site, created specifically for nabbing resys at area hotspots on Valentine's Day. The site, 911reservations.com, has been taken down, but Atlanta area restaurateurs are still feeling the effects of this most dastardly of Black Sunday scams.
Using a variety of aliases and phone numbers, the criminal mastermind behind the site booked several reservations at Atlanta hotspots weeks ago, and began auctioning them off on a sliding price scale once the restaurants were officially booked for Sunday night. The going rate for most reservations was $50, although certain choice spots, like a 7:15 slot at Rathbun’s Steakhouse, went for as much as $100. While the majority of reservations were booked for restaurants in the Atlanta area, the site also featured slots for sale in Miami, Napa Valley and New York City.
Kevin Brown, general manager at Chops Lobster Bar in Atlanta, first caught wind that something might be going on after noticing several reservations under the same name and number had been booked for Sunday night. Brown contacted his fellow restaurant crony Cliff Bramble, co-owner of Rathbun’s, to see if he had any reservations under the same name for that night. Naturally, he did. Says Bramble:
“I sent an e-mail out to about 20 restaurateurs that I know, and within five minutes I had four or five guys telling me they had these names all over their reservation books, from Bacchanalia to 4th & Swift -- all the top restaurants in the city...They made anywhere from 10 to 20 reservations at every restaurant.”The full extent of the scam was discovered when another restauranteur saw a Craig's List post advertising the site. The dots were connected, and the authorities were called.
Sadly, Valentine's Day less than two days away, many of the restaurants plagued by the scalper have no other option but to honor reservations made via the site.