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Date of Issue: November 24, 2005

Restaurant 'restitution' scam investigation continues

Restaurateurs who have received a letter from a polite patron who complained of becoming ill after dining at their establishment should probably NOT feel guilty and not send the patron a gift certificate.

It's probably a scam.

Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale said his office has been inundated with calls since an article appeared in The Islander Nov. 16 about a woman who had been sending complaint letters to restaurants in the area.

The letter asks the restaurateur to provide "some sort of restitution" for the "unpleasant occurrence" of becoming ill after eating the food there.

All of the letters are identical. All offer the woman's name and Bradenton address. All appear to be bogus. But not all the restaurants have realized it's a scam.

Speciale said many businesses have written checks or gift certificates to the woman. Some had mailed them; others were preparing to before reading the scam. All were grateful of the notice, he said.

The bogus letter has even reached as far south as Sarasota, Speciale said, where Marina Jack restaurant management said they had sent the woman a gift certificate for $100 after receiving the letter.

Speciale said officers are investigating the matter and hope to resolve the matter soon. If anyone in the dining business has received such a letter, he urged them to call him at 778-6311.