M’sian social enterprise PichaEats gets pranked with fake orders

PichaEats, a Malaysian social enterprise and catering company known for working with refugee chefs, was targeted by a prank order for 500 meals today.

The company received a seemingly urgent catering request from someone posing as “Universiti Malaya (UM)” for a last-minute event of 500 people.

Believing it to be legitimate, PichaEats signed an official-looking letter bearing the Ministry of Higher Education and UM logos. Their 15 chefs went ahead and purchased ingredients for the event.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a supposed scam, one that they only uncovered after the ingredients were bought.

Community steps up

Facing this situation, PichaEats posted on Facebook this morning an open plea for help to recoup some losses and prevent the purchased ingredients from going to waste.

The response was overwhelmingly positive. Within three hours, a community of netizens had rallied behind PichaEats, completely buying out all the prepared meals.

“Thanks to the community, the 15 Picha Chefs are not at a loss. We truly appreciate your incredible support!” it said in a Facebook Post.

Image Credit: PichaEats

Learning from the experience

To prevent this from happening again, PichaEats has taken some important steps:

  • They filed a police report.
  • They notified UM about scammers using their names.

PichaEats hopes that by sharing their experience, other businesses can avoid similar scams. “We learned it the hard way today,” they shared, hoping that it would be a lesson to others as well.

Just a day earlier, another catering company had reportedly also fallen for the same trap, PichaEats shared.

So, here’s how entrepreneurs can be careful in the future:

  • Use verification tools: Use tools and websites to check the legitimacy of phone numbers and business inquiries, like https://semakmule.rmp.gov.my/. This is what PichaEats advises to other businesses.
  • Verify orders directly: Always call the actual client to verify the order, especially for large ones. Direct communication can better confirm the order’s legitimacy.
  • Implement payment processes: Have clients pay upfront or make a deposit. This helps ensure the order is legitimate and provides some financial security if it gets cancelled.
  • Don’t rush big quotations: Take your time with large orders. Make sure all details are clear and verified before committing resources.
  • Be sceptical of big names: Don’t trust an order just because it uses the name of a well-known company or institution. Pranksters often use reputable names to gain trust.

By staying vigilant and adopting these measures, businesses can better protect themselves and their resources from similar happenings.

  • Learn more about PichaEats here.
  • Read other articles we’ve written about social enterprises here.

Featured Image Credit: PichaEats

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