If any of your customers happen to be in the mobile catering business, you might want to warn them to be careful about which jobs they accept at the moment.
The industry is being targeted by fraudsters who are attempting to extort money from caterers by pretending they are organising an event.
The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) has urged mobile caterers to be “extra vigilant” when booking events due to a rise in the number of fictitious events being reported to it.
Several caterers have fallen prey to advance-fee fraud, where the events run by alleged limited companies with seemingly legitimate websites have lured them into applying for a pitch with payment up-front only to find the events are fake.
Alan Fox, director of NCASS, confirmed it was an issue: “We have been contacted by a number of members who have been approached directly by ‘event organisers’ with some very dubious looking events.”
Fox said NCAS was advising caterers to be very careful when agreeing to be involved in an event, especially if they are required to hand over money for deposits.
It recommends that caterers carry out a series of basic precautions to safeguard against fraud wherever possible, such as verifying the background of the organiser with Companies House and checking with the council to see if a licence has been granted.
It said caterers should be suspicious of organisers making claims about large crowds or acts in their first year of trading, which invariably most of these ‘events’ are, as well as organisers who are reluctant to provide a written contract.