Restaurants ripped off by woman lying about being associated with 7News

(WSVN) - Two South Florida restaurants thought they were cashing in on big catering orders, but after they delivered the food, they never got paid. And 7News even became part of this strange story. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.

Two small, family-owned restaurants: Zubi Fish House in Little Haiti with delicious ceviche and snapper and Butter Flakes Bakery in Tamarac, a Jamaican restaurant known for its curry.

Both were ripped off by a woman who lied about being associated with 7News.

Harry Sinclair, Butter Flakes Bakery & Grill: “Scam! It’s a scamming thing!”

Brian Entin: “Was she believable?”

Yadira Perez, Zubi Fish House: “She was extremely believable.”

It started last month when Yadira got a call from a woman who called herself “Ms. Cinnamon.”

“Ms. Cinnamon” then handed the phone to another woman who claimed to be a 7News manager.

Yadira Perez: “She requested if we could do some sample lunch for a conference meeting she had that afternoon at 1 o’clock at the Marriott.”

Yadira prepared about $500 worth of seafood dishes and delivered the food to a woman in the lobby of this downtown Miami hotel.

Yadira Perez: “She said she will be standing there with a black shirt, slacks and she will have the red tag with a Channel 7 badge. The lady had the red tag with the Channel 7 badge.”

Brian Entin: “After Yadira delivered the food, the woman told her to come to Channel 7 to get paid. That’s when the scam unraveled. No one from 7News ordered catering, and the woman Yadira was talking to does not work for 7News.”

Yadira Perez: “It was just a waste of time. All around, a waste of time. We were here the entire day on that for nothing.”

And there’s yet another strange twist.

The woman who Yadira says took the food is seen on surveillance video at this downtown Miami homeless shelter bringing the platters inside. She says that’s the woman in the middle.

The shelter says they didn’t know where the food came from and kicked the woman out.

A few weeks later, Harry, the owner of Butter Flakes Bakery in Tamarac, got a similar call.

Harry Sinclair: “She said her son is the CEO of Channel 7 and she retired. Her husband left her $10 million. She did seven face lifts, and she’s 72 years old.”

It was the same routine.

The person on the phone said her name was Ms. Cinnamon.

She ordered $700 worth of food and asked for it to be delivered to this hotel.

And again, the scammer said Harry should come to Channel 7 for payment.

Harry Sinclair: “I drove straight to Channel 7. When I went there, I saw the guard at the door. When I told him the name, he smiled. He said, ‘This name sounds familiar. People always come here and ask for her, but she doesn’t work here.'”

The woman who scammed Yadira and Harry called from the same phone number, so I called the number.

Brian Entin: “My name is Brian Entin, I’m a reporter at Channel 7. We’re recording this call. We were trying to get in touch with Ms. Cinnamon.”

Woman: “There is no such person at this number. Whoever is using that app, they’re using my number. This is the 15th call I’ve got all week.”

The woman on the phone never answered when I called back.

Miami Police are investigating and stress businesses should always get paid up front.

Officer Kenia Fallat, Miami Police: “The message is make sure to safeguard yourself and take a deposit no matter how small the order.”

That’s advice the restaurant owners say they’re taking to heart.

Brian Entin: “Will you always take a deposit from now on?”

Yadira Perez: “Absolutely.”

Brian Entin: “No matter what?”

Yadira Perez: “No matter what, so if you want something, you’re going to have to leave a deposit!”

Harry Sinclair: “This never happened to me before. Never happened!”

Two small, family-owned restaurants were ripped off.

Our hope is that we can get the word out so no other business owner becomes a victim of this scam.

And if you think there’s something 7News should investigate, give us a call at the numbers on your screen or send an email to clue@wsvn.com.

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