Local bakeries are being targeted by a foreign crook placing orders for fancy wedding cakes. The scammer (or possibly a ring of cons) uses a stolen credit card to pay for the cakes then instructs the businesses to wire money to a company that will pick up and delivery the cake. But the story is just frosting designed to hide an ugly truth – there’s no shipping company; just a con artist named “Steven Nicole” in Toronto waiting to pick up the money from Western Union or Moneygram.
The orders are often placed over the phone through a TTY operator. TTY is used by the hearing impaired. Cons prefer the service because it disguises thick accents and makes calls untraceable. Follow-up correspondence is by e-mail.
A Portland bakery spent 60 hours making a $2,000 cake for 300. The cake spoiled after nobody came to pick it up.
A Bellingham bakery lost $980 cash and had to eat the cost of its $1,500, five-tier cake.
After local media sounded the alarm, other bakeries have also come forward to say they’ve received similar calls.
The wedding cake scam isn’t new. Similar ploys have been reported by past chefs throughout the country since at least 2008. See examples here and here.
Wire transfer scams aren’t new, either. All Consuming has warned you about the grandparent scam, the mystery shopper scam, the puppy-for-sale scam and the sweepstakes scam, among others. Today, I bought a necklace from a Seattle designer who told me that she had lost more than a grand to some overseas slimeball who ordered her custom jewelry. “I wish I had known you earlier,” she told me.
The bakers and jewelry designer all said the same thing: They were flattered that someone so far away seemed interested in their work.
Posted by Kristin Alexander All Consuming Blog Moderator at 04/15/2010 03:35:43 PM |
|How disgraceful. I work in the bridal industry and know all too well how difficult and demanding the work is and to have someone abuse small businesses like that is just awful. I hope that these people are caught soon.|
Posted by: Gayle ( Email ) at 4/22/2010 5:52 AM
|I have heard of this exact same thing happening here in Australia too. A business colleague of mine that owns a bakery an does a lot of wedding cakes had this exact thing happen to him from someone here. The order was supposedly ordered by someone in Australia but more likely overseas. What amazes me is how these criminals discover the little tools that they use such as the hearing impaired trick.|
Posted by: Wedding Bomboniere ( Email ) at 4/30/2010 6:01 PM
|This is the 2nd time that I have received a call in the last year for a wedding cake - large & not very clearly defined for the details from the "bride". What can we do (in any state - I'm in Vt.) to deter this from happening? Is there other info that bakeries can collect to help catch these people?|
Posted by: Jacki ( Email ) at 5/17/2010 7:22 AM
|This is very sad to hear. I have had various friends that I know who have mentioned that they have almost had this kind of thing happen to. Hopefully people will now be more aware and more careful.|
Posted by: Wedding Cakes Brisbane ( Email ) at 5/25/2010 3:31 AM
|As if Louisiana doesn't have enough problems right now, they've moved down to us. [EDITED BY AGO BLOG MODERATOR - EMAIL ADDRESS] I told her 1050 for some cupcakes! Let's see if she bites!|
Posted by: Tasty Pastry Cafe' ( Email ) at 6/5/2010 3:37 PM
|It's amazing how low people will go. Wedding Cakes in particular take an enormous amount of time, effort and cost to create. However, one should never wire money to anyone for this purpose, accept money yes, wire money, no. It's to easy to be talen any other way.|
Posted by: Lynda Crombie ( Email ) at 6/21/2010 3:43 AM
|Our company was hit with a mass e-mail and our store tested the story. It was exactly what was described above. The lady's name was Kelly Mccarley who was "ordering" the cake. They wanted $980 charged to the card and given to a delivery driver going to Toronto. We did not get to the point of getting the credit card to varify it but I am pretty sure the 980.00 would have ended up needing to be "wired" somewhere! Thanks for the site!|
Posted by: Nate ( Email ) at 7/7/2010 11:25 AM
|We also got the Kelly McCarley email! I must say it was convincing up to the point where they wanted to randomly add $980 to the top just for shipping and another $100 just for the convience. They made the ploy that it was a deaf woman and we actually got a phone call from an ATT relay! Wow, please watch out!!|
Posted by: Annies Bakery ( Email ) at 7/20/2010 9:04 AM
|Warning they are still at it ...I got the call just like ..Nate above did...same thing the rest all emails $980 shipping.. 5 tiers pink roses...#100 extra for the late notice..this just happen today August8 2010..I though at first it was a scam,,but I did send them a email back ..then I Google them ..at the botton of page is the same scamming storties|
Posted by: Delores ( Email ) at 8/8/2010 4:21 PM
|OMG, I jreceived the same exact scam artists yesterday. Today they followed up with an email from "Kelly McCarley" claiming to order the same exact thing (5-tier) wedding cake, $980 shipping charges and the $100 convenience fee!! I'm glad I decided to google this!! Thanks to all who commented and told their stories!! Beware and Be Smart!!|
Posted by: nicole ( Email ) at 9/21/2010 1:15 PM
|This happened to our small bakery in Stow, OH today ! We did find it bizarre that the email was written kind of funky like they didn't know how to speak good English and figured that someone hearing impaired would most likely have fantastic written communication skills. We googled it and this page pops up ! Thank God we caught it fast enough ! [BLOG MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: Glad to be of help, Angela, and relieved you didn't lose any time or money to these crooks. - Kristin.]|
Posted by: Angela Popovic ( Email ) at 9/30/2010 2:18 PM
|Just got the same e-mail today: 5-tier wedding cake covered in roses for next week. The name on the e-mail: Cathy J. Labella.|
Posted by: Sara ( Email ) at 10/6/2010 11:33 AM
|Just got one of these e-mails yesterday from Cathy J Labella. Thank God I looked up the name online and was able to get reviews of this scam artist. It saved my a lot of high hopes from baking 350 cupcakes and dealing w/ their strange delivery service from Canada!|
Posted by: Lin ( Email ) at 10/9/2010 1:06 AM
|We also got this same scam pulled on us today. Same exact people and everything. How horrible of them. We are very new and we are struggling to make ends meet and if we had fallen for this it seriously could have ended my chances of success. Thank you so much for the heads up, and for sharing your stories.|
Posted by: Amanda Campbell ( Email ) at 10/11/2010 2:37 PM
|I just got the same email from Cathy Labella. Same shipping 980.00 and 100.00 for my time to do this. I knew it was a scam when they changed the wedding date three times ! I wasn't about to hand any shipping company cash or wire it ! Thank you for posting these comments it just confirmed what I knew...|
Posted by: Lori Greene ( Email ) at 10/11/2010 6:49 PM
|I just received this same request same exact cake picture through wedding wire.com. They never contacted me via phone only email but the email just seemed so off to me that I questioned it. I trusted my gut and was very happy I did!!!|
Posted by: Danielle ( Email ) at 10/12/2010 11:37 AM
|We received an email from Cathy J Labella on 10-13-2010, wanting the infamous 5 tier for 300 people to boxed for pickup for 10-23-2010. I told my sister this was a total scam and she replied that we were booked. Now we get a reply: "Can it be for Nov 2??" Like ... did the wedding date change?! |
Whoever this "person" is does not want to take the hint! Her email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted by: Amblyn Faith Cakery ( Email ) at 10/15/2010 2:13 PM
|We received the same request on 10-13-2010 as was received by Sara. The request was from Cathy J Labella at email@example.com.|
Posted by: Amblyn Faith Cakery ( Email ) at 10/15/2010 2:26 PM
|because I am making my cakes out of my house we ran the two credit cards through my sisters store , yes just this morning for 2473.00 that of course counting the 980.00 for shipping. I sure hope we can get the money back on whoever the cards belong to.At least my cakes were to be picked up on oct. 26th so I havent spent any money preparing them. and the exact same details as above , five tier pink roses. I really hope they catch this person and put them in prison for a few years.|
Posted by: julie lucero ( Email ) at 10/20/2010 1:39 PM
|This is a really interesting post because something similar happened to me recently. I am a wedding planner and I got an email saying that I "will" (yes, very forceful language) organize a wedding for 150 on such and such a date and it will be paid on the day by credit card. I dismissed it but thought, now why would someone do that?|
Posted by: Cambridge Wedding ( Email ) at 10/26/2010 1:46 PM
|This happended to us this week.. "Cathy J Labella" hearing impaired, cake delivery to Canada. We collected money ,did cake & flowers, sent the money to the shipper (western uinion, then additional charges for shipping were needed to be western union immediately, which we did not send, told her she would have to go to western union and pay. Never heard from her again... Cake was to be picked up yesterday 10/28/2010. Cakes 5 tiers are in the frig... Reported to police and western union.|
Posted by: Fister Sisters Bakery ( Email ) at 10/29/2010 10:57 AM
|I haven't heard of this scam, and I actually have a friend who owns a bakery so I will mention this to him. I don't think it's too common of a problem is it? [AGO BLOG MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: Yes -- it's very common. Note all the comments to our post. Thank you for spreading the warning.]|
Posted by: Julie ( Email ) at 10/30/2010 1:50 PM
|Just received the same e-mail today. Thank you for posting your experiences ~ you saved me!|
Posted by: kirsten ( Email ) at 11/5/2010 8:51 PM
|We are currently dealing with "her" now. I've phoned police, government phone busters, but no body seems too interested. Until last night we had completely fallen for it and we ready to bake away. |
There are some terribly sick people out there.
I feel terrible for anyone has fallen for it.
We thought she was some incredibly rich lady who had money to toss around so we googled her last night to see if she was some big shot only to see "CAKE SCAM" everywhere. Thank God! She is awaiting a total right now so she can give me her credit card #. Wish I could do something to stop them... IdeaS?[ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S REPLY: Please don't try to catch a scammer. The more you communicate with the person, the more likely you will end up on a sucker list and be contacted by additional scammers. These folks are almost always overseas.]
Posted by: Sonya ( Email ) at 11/9/2010 10:26 AM
|Yes. We just received an email from Cathy j labella as well regarding the 300 guest 5 tier cake. I am glad i found this post. Thank you all. The email was sent from : firstname.lastname@example.org|
Posted by: Dickson ( Email ) at 11/11/2010 4:33 PM
|We are a local bakery on Vancouver Island, BC|
We received an email from a Cathy Labella (claiming to be hearing impaired and so could not contact us by phone) requesting wedding cupcakes decorated with a blue heart on top of each one.
"She" wanted them shipped to Chicago with her "private shipping agent" she wanted us to add $980.00 to the cost of the cakes and charge this to a credit card. Then send money i supposed to a third party.
She had us going for a while.. luckily we thought to google her name THANK GOODNES!
Posted by: kate ( Email ) at 11/15/2010 1:29 PM
|Not only have they been scamming in the US they have now made their way to Canada. I own a bakery in Aurora and received a simillar request. However I caught up to them prior to the resquested wire transfer. Don't let yourself be fooled by her hearing impaired claim, or you will find yourself to be the next victim of these scamers.|
Posted by: Sonia ( Email ) at 11/18/2010 7:11 AM
I was contacted by this "Cathy J Labella" starting on Wed. November 10th asking the exact same thing- 300 person cake, 5 tier,Delivery on Nov. 18th at 3pm, same pic as everyone else got...She will pay whatever I want for my cakes because she loves it so much and won't have a wedding without my cakes. blah, blah, blah. She will pay me $980.00 for shipping, plus an extra $100 for my troubles...knew it was a scam from the beginning. I contacted my local police (I'm in B.C. Canada, she wants the cake for her wedding in Chicago!) and they forwarded me onto the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center www.anti-fraudcenter.ca or www.recol.ca if you want to file a complaint online.
I've been giving them(the Canadian Fraud center) the credit card numbers that "she" has given me (which are stolen by the way!) and now the location in which I am supposed to Western Union the $980.00 for shipping to- A lady by the name of Erica Langford in Champaign, IL.....Don't let this person get you, and if you can, file a complaint- the more people that do this, the more they can do about it!
Posted by: Tanya ( Email ) at 11/18/2010 1:02 PM
|We got the TTY call in early summer. They had me going for about five minutes until they gave me a date which was a Wednesday. RED FLAG: Nobody gets married, with 300 guests, during the middle of the week. So then she, "the TTY operator", started telling me that the recipient couldn't leave the house because she was handicapped and that I needed to wire money. That's when I blew her off and contacted the police in Albuquerque where the phone number on the caller ID was located (we're in Florida). They took the information but really didn't care too much.|
When we first opened, we got a call for someone ordering a carved cake shapped like a marijuana leaf. I thought, ok, I'm open minded so we did the cake. It ended up being a scam and no one came for the cake nor was it paid for ahead of time. From then on, all cakes ordered over the phone must be paid in full up front. No exceptions!
Stay vigilant people, it takes way too much time to make these cakes and can be so hearbreaking.
Posted by: Nel ( Email ) at 11/26/2010 11:06 AM
|Wow, am I glad for Google! Just got an email from our dear Cathy J Labella in Canada for a 5-tier cake with pink roses to feed 300 people or so. No point in replying to her, but I am wondering: what can we do? This person is clearly targeting us, preying on us... there must be some sort of recourse we can take. Do I call the police? Email the FBI? How else will this person be caught? [BLOG MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: Unfortunately, these scammers are tough to catch. But you may wish to file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center online at http://www.ic3.gov/complaint/ and Phonebusters, the Canadian anti-fraud call center: 1-888-495-8501, www.phonebusters.com.]|
Posted by: Deirdre Delaney ( Email ) at 11/29/2010 11:53 AM
|My turn! Got the first email yesterday. I got the red-flag instantly- she wanted the cake for a Tuesday, 2 weeks from now? Yeah, okay. I talked to my mother in law and she googled it. I emailed her back to let her know her name is well known when googled! :)|
Posted by: Tammy ( Email ) at 12/1/2010 12:29 PM
|Got an email from Cathy Labella this week. I told her I couldn't make the cake and then she replied saying she already told all her friends that I was going to make her cake and begged for me to make it, then she asked for cupcakes. Luckily my husband googled her email address and found this page. What a joke.|
Posted by: JB ( Email ) at 12/2/2010 12:23 PM
|My wife was contacted by Cathy J Labella on the 24-11-2010 from America(Chicago,Illnois) for a 5 tier cake. We live in the Western suburbs of Sydney, NSW Australia, a home business. My wife was quite flattered by the emails but you could buy cake in America. My wife has had cakes go in interstate to Queensland,Australia before,so the possibility of this happening is possible. |
So as the husband I was not happy with the etiquette of the email and the importance of who she is. I googled CATHY J LABELLA and found the damage shehas caused in America and Canada. So we waited went to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, notified the Police I even sent an email to the Prime Minister of Australia, and the media to stop this type of crime affecting my country Australia. But this horrible person Cathy J labella told her friends In Oslo Norway that we were easy targets( if they were friends) and I sent her email b.c.c the Aust govt, police, media, politicians etc.
The scary issue is tuesday 30-11-2010 the [EDITED PER AGO BLOG COMMENT POLICY -- RACIAL DESCRIPTOR] turned up on my home door step at 6.30am looking for a woman to do work for and when they saw me they disappeared( with an old car that failed to start straight away).
I hope my comment helps other cake businesses in this globalised world.....beware!!!!!!!!
Posted by: Andrew Peach ( Email ) at 12/2/2010 10:08 PM
|I never thought that a scam like this also exist...for a bakery owner, this would really be alarming! And to think police does not pay that much attention with such case as this...|
Posted by: Jean ( Email ) at 8/29/2011 2:45 AM
|Wow! It is incredible what nasty things people do to businesses. With wedding cakes, there is so much time spent making the product that makes this crime so horrible. I own a wedding slideshow business here in Seattle and I too would feel terrible if something like this happened to me. I could easily spend 60 hours on a wedding video package. We just have to be on our toes and try to spot these scams. I guess requiring a deposit before any actual work is done might be a good policy. I'm sure that everyone in the wedding business tries to do their best to satisfy clients but when something like this happens, it really puts a damper on client trust.|
Posted by: Jenny ( Email ) at 8/30/2011 11:30 AM
|Wedding Cakes in particular take an enormous amount of time, effort and cost to create. However, one should never wire money to anyone for this purpose, accept money yes, wire money, no. It's to easy to be talen any other way.|
Posted by: steven ( Email ) at 9/1/2011 6:41 PM
|Well i must say the video is educative for beginners like me. many Thanks|
Posted by: Jenny Tay ( Email ) at 9/23/2011 9:01 PM
|We just got hit with the same story, different name, Cynthia Scott. Wanted to order 600 cupcakes for a thursday for her wedding in 10 days, couldn't call since she's in the hospital for breast cancer surgery. |
Thought it was strange/too good to be true!
And the store I work at is in Victoria BC!
Posted by: Amber ( Email ) at 9/25/2011 6:41 PM
|Okay, this Cynthia Scott just called my gift shop and wanted to place a order over the phone for her wedding party. Wanted 12 gifts about $100 per gift and was going to send a carrier to pick them up. WHen I told her to order on the website she said you was in the hospital for breast cancer!!! My gut was telling me this was fraud.|
Posted by: Jodean Forgues ( Email ) at 11/11/2011 1:40 PM
|I received a voicemail from a woman wanting me to get back to her via email email@example.com. She left no details of her order, wierd? I emailed her asking what she wanted to order and for when. Then she emailed me back saying she was in the hospital for breast cancer surgery so she couldn't talk, but she wanted to order a 5 tier cake with pink roses or 50 pies for a week from today...that were going to be picked up ...red flag. You dont pick up a five tiered cake, it gets delivered. Then I noticed the email address was firstname.lastname@example.org...a different number than the previous email...busted.|
Posted by: Elissa Buckley ( Email ) at 12/6/2011 7:38 AM
|Cynthia Scott seems to be the new name these scammers are using. We were contacted for a 50 pie order with the same 206 area code and the email@example.com email address. We initially were flattered by the order, but once the request came in to wire the shipping costs via Western Union, we researched her name and came across this site (and others) that saved us from a lot of work. We contacted both the local police and credit card companies, but there is not much that can be one. Thanks to all of you for posting this and keeping it sane in a somewhat crazy world.|
Posted by: Joe Terry ( Email ) at 12/26/2011 1:46 PM
|I received the voicemail from a Cynthia Scott requesting that I email her. Like a previous commenter, she replied via email that she was in the hospital for breast cancer surgery and she needed a 5-tier cake or 50 whole pies to be picked up on 01/17/2012 at 3 pm. There were lots of flattering comments in the email such as how great my baking was and how much she was looking forward to sharing my cakes with her wedding guests. She emailed today with the comments about a $100 tip and add an additional $980 to be paid to a delivery company. We get a good number of last-minute orders so that in itself did not raise a red flag but asking me to pay for the delivery did. I googled Wedding Cake scams and found this page and am so glad I did. I did call my local police and will be talking to them this evening. I am in Lewiston, Idaho.|
Posted by: Anna ( Email ) at 1/3/2012 8:39 PM
|Just got the same from Cynthia Scott. She's calls with a voice recording telling you to e-mail her back for a cake order.|
Posted by: Sara Jablonske ( Email ) at 1/4/2012 11:06 AM
|I was just contacted for the same scam a few days ago. The e-mail came from firstname.lastname@example.org. All the details are the same as the others. I thought it suspicious when they wanted me to add the currier price to my cake price. I then looked online to see if there was a scam going around, I was surprised and yet new it couldn't be a one time accurence. It was to wierd of a order.|
Posted by: cindy bendtsen ( Email ) at 2/1/2012 10:10 AM
|I got e-mail she said "I would have come in to meet you in person to place this order, but presently am preparing myself to leave for my breast cancer surgery, so we can best communicate via email for now, please bear with me on that....|
I like to place an order for some gift package items for my wedding guests, and its going to be a pick up order... blah blah...
I NEVER own any store or own business, but I'm going to have some fun with this lady, let see how long she will figure out :)
Posted by: Patric ( Email ) at 2/21/2012 1:08 PM
|We received a voice message asking us to email. The person checking messages said it sounded like they were talking on a speaker phone, and so did not understand everything that they were saying. Thanks for these postings, as we now know to ignore any further messages.|
(from Manitoba, Canada)
Posted by: Angela ( Email ) at 3/2/2012 2:50 PM
|Cynthia Scott has changed her name. Just received a recorded message to email her immediately re: her wedding order. Scam.|
Posted by: Heather ( Email ) at 3/3/2012 9:45 AM
|Received a call from a Virginia area code (we're in Colorado) asking us to email regarding an order for a wedding. The phone number wasn't that weird, because with cell phones and number portability, no-one changes their number any more, even when they move across the country. |
Anyway. We're strictly a wholesale bakery, so we can't do orders for individual people (no retail sales tax license), so I was in the process of emailing this person back with that information when I got the idea to google the email address, just to see if I could find this "pet shop"...well, this page came up! A good thing, too...because the last thing I want to do is give these scammers our email address!!!
Anyway. A big Colorado shout out and "THANKS!" to the folks at the AG's office in Washington for maintaining this blog...sounds like you saved us substantial time, trouble, and money!!!
Posted by: Red Mountain Bakery ( Email ) at 3/3/2012 10:10 AM
|mine came from latrobe,Pa. the day before yesterday. they are still busy.|
Posted by: Jean Doulen ( Email ) at 3/15/2012 1:30 PM
|I often receive request for large amounts of cupcakes or a large wedding cake through my contact form on my website. They always want the cake packed nice for a courier to pick up. I always send them back an email that says "YOU ARE A SCAM AND I HOPE YOU GET CAUGHT"! I usually don't get a reply. If enough bakers do this, hopefully, they will get the message and stop targeting bakeries|
Posted by: Melissa Fischer ( Email ) at 11/13/2012 6:32 PM
|Just today I have received a new scam asking if I can do 400 cupcakes, and asking if I accept credit card. I had a thought that it might be a scam so I went along and gave them a ridiculous price and said I don't accept credit cards. So funny I haven't heard back yet. This is the Second time I have been contacted. The thing is that you keep on asking lots of questions, and they give up.|
Posted by: Penelope Malean ( Email ) at 11/22/2012 3:00 AM
|Just adding that our bakery too has received these scams. Twice - one was the wedding cake and the other was the cupcakes. In both instances, we declined the work. I handle all customer requests personally and am quite tech-able so it wasn't hard to spot. I will say that the wedding cake scam actually provided me with a venue in our area. Never hearing of it, I called the so-called venue and it did not exist. The other thing about both scams - we would NEVER accept a custom/semi-custom (even a stardard order this large) over an email and absolutely never without payment first. However, I played along and emailed back asking for all sorts of information to verify with the venue ---- no response :')|
Posted by: anthony ( Email ) at 1/13/2013 1:27 PM
|Why would they do that? It sounds like the people that do these wedding cake scams don't even gain anything from this. I hope they are able to find out who did this.|
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