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hack and dine Dublin restaurant receives over 100 fake bookings in lead up to reopening

Staff noticed on Tuesday that bookings for Friday lunchtime “suddenly jumped” and the names on the bookings all had ‘Marco’ somewhere in the name.

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Salamanca Restaurant, Dublin (Photo: Facebook/Salamanca)

Salamanca Restaurant, Dublin (Photo: Facebook/Salamanca)

Salamanca Restaurant, Dublin (Photo: Facebook/Salamanca)

A Dublin restaurant has discovered over 100 fake cover bookings in the lead up to their reopening, but will continue to open its doors “with bells on”.

Salamanca Tapas Bar and Restaurant on Andrew’s Street is preparing to reopen for outdoor dining on June 10, but had its online booking system for the weekend filled with fake diners.

Staff made the discovery on Tuesday when they spotted a number of different reservations had the same email address and contact number.

“It’s shocking, absolutely shocking, and they were quite clever about it,” restaurant owner Caroline Boyle told Independent.ie.

“We would have been very busy in the past for Friday lunchtime, but we were suddenly suspicious when we noticed a block of reservations come through.”

Staff noticed on Tuesday that bookings for Friday lunchtime “suddenly jumped” and the names on the bookings all had ‘Marco’ somewhere in the name.

The email addresses were also composed of random numbers instead of words, which also drew the attention of staff.

After investigation, the restaurant discovered the fake bookings continued into the weekend and over 100 false bookings had been made from Thursday to Sunday.

“There was a block on the Friday night, which is the most important sitting, the half eight, quarter to nine sitting, and we found tables of 4 booked with very dodgy looking email addresses,” Ms Boyle said.

The restaurant does not know who is behind the fake bookings, “it could be hackers – but we’ve no idea it could be anybody,” she added.

Ms Boyle pointed out that after cancelling the bookings, an automatic email is sent to the customers email address to inform them of the cancellation, but “not one person called the restaurant from all those cancellations”.

The restaurant was also not able to phone the bookings as the numbers supplied were fake.

“We called every number and they were all dodgy, fake numbers, we couldn’t get through," she said.

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Ms Boyle said last year, a lot of restaurants had problems with no shows but she had never encountered a problem like this.

Like many other restaurants, people can make reservations through an online booking system.

The city centre restaurant is not taking deposits for outdoor dining reservations due to the unpredictability of the weather.

Ms Boyle said, “I can’t do that to people what if it rains from the heavens on a particular day, I can’t do that."

The city centre restaurant is concentrating on reopening, and is urging all businesses in the hospitality industry to be wary and vigilant to avoid a similar situation.

So far the restaurant has only found fake bookings for the first weekend, but they vow to keep a closer eye on bookings for the future.

“Maybe some restaurants don’t even know that it’s happened,” Caroline added.

The owner said the issue is adding to an “already stressful enough situation” but is “opening with bells on” on June 10th.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Restaurant Association of Ireland: “This is the first that this has been brought to our attention, we are not aware of any other instances”.

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