Chef Mark Greenaway warned fellow restaurateurs to be on their guard as he reported suspicions he was targeted by a money laundering scam that started with an innocuous request for a large booking.
Restaurant Mark Greenaway, based in Edinburgh, received the request through its bookings email address for a party of 30 people, from someone asking to pay for everything in advance on a credit card, but the would-be diner had a favour to ask.
"After two or three emails we then discovered what the favour was. He asked if he overpaid by £2,000 could we transfer the money to a different account so the driver got paid. The reason he couldn't do it? He was going into hospital so wouldn't be there, so could we pay the driver for him?" Greenaway said on a Facebook post. "This is money-laundering and a very old scam where someone overpays for something and asks you to transfer the money back to them but to another account."
Greenaway passed all information on to the police and they have advised not to take the booking any further.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: "We can confirm that we were contacted in relation to a concern over a potential money-laundering scam. Appropriate advice on this matter was provided to the caller."
Anyone concerned that they may have been targeted by the scammers is advised to get in touch with the police by calling 101.
Greenaway's FB post has drawn sympathetic comment from fellow chefs and local businesses across different sectors that have received similar approaches. It has so far been shared 40 times in a bid to stop small restaurants falling prey to the scammers.