Eatery 'at risk of closure' as scammers exploit Just Eat loophole
- Credit: Daniel Gayne
A Chadwell Heath restauranteur is on the verge of losing his business due to scammers repeatedly exploiting a loophole in Just Eat's systems.
Gulzar Hussain Shoro set up Sweets Town and Grill in High Road only a few months ago, delivering a range of sweet treats to east Londoners.
However, he said his business is already at risk of shutting down as a result of customers who use Just Eat’s delivery app to get food for free.
The scam, which staff at the outlet refer to as the "chew and screw", sees scammers set up brand new Just Eat accounts - often under false names - to make large orders.
After the food is delivered, they report being "unhappy with their order" to Just Eat and submit a refund request.
The Just Eat app allows customers to do this without providing evidence of missing food or an unsatisfying meal.
Back at the restaurant, Gulzar said the software forces him to accept the refund in order to take new orders.
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Just Eat has defended its “robust” anti-fraud measures and said it is investigating the matter.
Meanwhile, Shoro estimated he is losing as much as 20 per cent of his weekly intake and said if the scammers continue, he is at risk of losing his business.
“The rest of the customers, they order for £10, for £20, for £15, but these people they are big, so they make up more percentage,” he said.
He said Just Eat has given him compensation for some of these fraudulent orders, but he was still losing a significant amount of money.
“Let’s say we have got a £45 order, which has been paid. So, the order is ready and then I’m sending my driver eight miles away, just for one order – you can see, the cost of the driver, the cost of the fuel, paying for the insurance, I'm using my food and packing and everything, so if I lose £45, I’m not just losing £45," he said.
The "situation is already bad” due to the pandemic, he noted, and now he feels forced to pull out of using Just Eat.
“Maybe you are a legit customer and you’ve never used Just Eat before, and you order through it, but I am not going to send you a delivery because I think that you are [a fraud],” he said.
Shoro said he believes some people are regularly creating new accounts and requesting delivery to different addresses in order to repeatedly exploit the loophole.
However, his staff believe they have identified some of the scammers, who, despite their multiple accounts, have left a trail in the last four digits of their card numbers.
Shoro estimated that there are around four repeat offenders, while roughly 15 people have tried the scam as a one-off.
Gulzar has taken these details to officers at Ilford Police station, who referred him to Action Fraud.
It confirmed to the Recorder that it had received a report from the business in September 2021, which is currently being assessed by the City of London Police’s National Fraud Intelligence Bureau.
Just Eat insists it has robust measures in place to block fraudulent orders, including using an algorithm to detect irregularities and unexpected behaviour.
A Just Eat spokesperson said: "We're absolutely committed to supporting our restaurant partners and take complaints of this nature seriously.
"While incidents like this are rare, whenever we're made aware of any such activity, we take steps to ensure restaurants are not financially impacted, such as providing compensation.
“We are currently investigating this matter and are actively exploring measures we can take to avoid this from happening again."