VIRGINIA BEACH-- Lauren Mattacchione makes sure her customer service is as good as the hot dogs being served at her restaurant, Famous Uncle Al’s Hot dogs in Kempsville, but sometimes her generosity goes too far.
Mattacchione believes she was the victim of a schemers looking for some fast money, not once, but twice.
Mattacchione says a lady came to her restaurant with a story about how she left her wallet at home.
“She had come to this area to do some shopping and realized that when she got here she had left her pocketbook and all of her money and credit cards at home. Calls to her family went unanswered and then she realized that she was on 'E' on her gas tank,” explains Mattacchione.
The lady promised she would be back to repay the money but never showed up, even though it was just $5.
The incident was like déjà vu because Mattacchione had helped a man who came in with a similar story and need.
“It was a gentleman this time, again very well dressed and came in really dramatic with a story about his grandmother had been admitted into the hospital with a heart emergency, a heart attack.”
Again, he needed money for gas and again, Mattacchione gave it to him and again, his promise to pay it back went unfulfilled.
Mattacchione feels almost certain that these are schemers targeting small businesses to take a advantage of their generosity.
Authorities say that’s entirely possible because this time of year brings out people looking for a quick buck.
“I think you should be leery when it's an individual asking for money. If someone is hungry, I think it's smarter to get them some food,' says Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney spokeswoman Macie Pridgen.
Pridgen warns be careful of fake charities preying on the season’s giving mood.