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Food bloggers suspected of cheating dozens of local restaurants out of free food

A COUPLE claiming to be food bloggers are suspected of scamming several Christchurch restaurants and netting hundreds of pounds worth of food and wine.

A warning has now gone out to eateries in the town to look out for the pair, who are said to have targeted at least 14 restaurants and pubs, some of which are in Bournemouth. Police have confirmed they are now investigating.

Chris Rice, who runs the town’s Soho bar and restaurant, posted CCTV images alongside an alert on social media alleging the couple had returned a second time to his restaurant last Friday.

The couple visited Soho in Christchurch twice (picture: Google)
The couple visited Soho in Christchurch twice (picture: Google)

He was then inundated with reports from other establishments claiming the pair had pulled the same scam on them.

“The sheer extent of what they have apparently been doing is staggering,” said Chris. “It’s just disgusting given the 18 months the hospitality industry has had with Covid. We are all still struggling to get our businesses back on their feet.”

The couple were said to have first eaten at Soho in July, when they complained glass had been found in their food. “They ordered starters, wine and drinks. They mentioned being food bloggers.

“Everything was fine until suddenly the male starts causing a commotion. He was apparently sick on the table, then started shouting that he had found glass in his food.

“We had to rip our kitchen apart looking for glass, but we did not find any. Never in 30 years has anything like this happened to me.”

The couple were refunded the cost of their meal, but Chris had suspicions about the pair and later heard from a chef at the nearby Loch and Quay that the same couple had pulled a near identical stunt there.

Chris was shocked to see the couple back in his restaurant last Friday. They bought a bottle of champagne and Chris confronted them.

“I said the Champagne stays in the bar and the cash in the till unless tomorrow you come with me to the Loch and Quay, and if you are not the same couple who have been doing this I will refund you,” said Chris.

The pair did not turn up, he said, and he subsequently took the decision to post a warning online. He has also reported the matter to the police and Pubwatch.

A manager from the Loch and Quay also claimed the same couple had visited them.

“They ordered drinks and food and the male claimed he had found a staple in his meal,” they said. “He was causing a real scene; he was like a Hollywood actor, calling for an ambulance to be called.

“They said they were food bloggers and my fear was that they would put a terrible review on it. So, we comped the whole meal and drinks.”

General manager of The Ship in the High Street, Paula Cherrett, recalled a similar incident there.

“I thought it was odd that they ordered so many starters,” she said. “Now I know it was because they didn’t intend to eat their main course.”

Dorset Police said they received a report on Tuesday relating to an alleged scam involving a man and woman who attended Soho for a meal on 15th July.

In a statement they said: “The man reportedly claimed he had glass in his food and the couple were given a free meal.

“The restaurant subsequently discovered that the same couple were believed to have been involved in similar incidents at other food establishments in the area in order to fraudulently obtain free meals.

“Enquiries into the matter are ongoing, including to establish further details of any other reported incidents.”

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