A restaurant in Ayr, Ontario wants to warn others in the industry about what they believe to be a fake catering scheme.

The Ridge Social Eatery said they recently received an email from an unknown group about catering 150 COVID-19 health care volunteers.

A request that seemed too good to be true.

“It’s very tempting to take that order and run with it,” co-owner Mike Eckhardt told CTV News.

However it did raise some red flags once they dug a little deeper into the details.

“The large amount of food, not giving a name for the volunteer relief, not giving a name from the email,” explained Eckhardt. “Some of the general questions of what time you could pick up [the order], how would you be paying, and different questions like that that we brought up to them, that they never answered.”

Eckhardt said he stopped replying after a few email exchanges and now believes it was a fake order.

One that could have cost him over $1,000.

“There were quite a few email scams going around affecting restaurants during COVID-19,” he said.

Darryl Haus is the owner of both the Grand Surf Lounge and Grand Trunk Saloon in Kitchener and the maître d’ at Conestoga College’s teaching restaurant Bloom.

He said his businesses received similar fraudulent messages over the last few years.

“I think they’re using stolen credit cards. They get their money back because their credit will be declined and they will ask to be refunded because the event has been cancelled, and you pay them back in a separate account.”

Haus said the best thing an owner can do is due diligence.

“Have a conversation on the phone, verify they are who they say they are,” he advises. “If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”

Eckhardt is glad his order didn’t go any further, but he’s frustrated that someone would pick on an industry that’s already gone through so much since the start of the pandemic.

“It’s unfortunate that it would happen to a restaurant, a family-owned restaurant, not just ours but anybody doing a job for themselves for a living.”

The email that was sent t the Ridge Social Eatery was also sent to another restaurant in Waterloo region.

The restaurants have been sharing their experiences on social media so others don’t fall victim to the scheme.