NYC Upscale Restaurant Forced to Shut Down Following $45,000 Cyber Scam; Owner Urges Other Firms To Be Vigilant

By Trisha Andrada

Jun 24, 2024 03:18 AM EDT

fancy restaurant
(Photo : Jason Leung on Unsplash)

Gotham Restaurant, an upscale diner in Greenwich Village, New York, was forced to shut down after being targeted by a payroll cyber scam worth $45,000. The co-owner is now sounding a warning to other establishments.

Temporary Shutdown

Co-owner Bret Csencsitz claimed they had to make the tough decision to temporarily close after being tricked into paying money to a "nefarious actor." In an interview with the New York Post, he said they could not keep their payroll going and did not have enough money.

The owners decided to shut down for a few months because of the predicted loss of money and a major decline in consumers from June to August when people are abroad. Earlier this month, they notified staff of the temporary shutdown in a memo, according to Eater New York.

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Targeted by Cyber Scam

The crisis began for the posh restaurant early in May. A fraudster posing as an employee of the payroll provider Gotham employs contacted Csencsitz and his human resources assistant to advise them that the business was updating their banking details due to internal issues.

Csencsitz went through old emails and figured that the one they just received seemed to be from the payroll business employee they usually talk with.

Csencsitz proceeded to transfer the funds to a new account associated with a company and its address. A few hours later, they noticed that something was vaguely off.

According to him, the fraudster had mimicked the email provider's format. Upon deeper inspection, it was discovered that the email address had an extra K in the URL, which was hard to notice.

"We fell victim to someone who was able to inject themselves into an ongoing dialogue between ourselves and a payroll company," Csencsitz stated.

Although he reached out to his bank, they have not yet been able to retrieve the funds. It surprises him that banks do not take greater measures to protect their customers' funds. He is now communicating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation after reporting the incident.

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