Former Employee of Restaurant Reservation Company Charged with Fraud for Intentionally Disrupting the Business of a Competitor
CHICAGO — An employee of a restaurant-reservation company used fake names and email addresses to create hundreds of fraudulent restaurant bookings through a competitor’s system, according to a criminal charge filed today by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Chicago.
STEVEN ADDISON worked as an Enterprise Operations Specialist in the Chicago office of a San Francisco-based company that provides an online reservation system for restaurants. From November 2017 until February 2018, Addison booked more than 300 fraudulent reservations at Chicago restaurants that use Reserve, a competing reservation service, according to a criminal information filed in federal court in Chicago. Many of the bogus reservations were made on busy days, including New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, when Addison knew restaurants would suffer financial losses when no diners showed up to claim the reservation, the information states. Addison’s scheme intended to demonstrate to Chicago restaurants that Reserve had an inferior reservation system, the charge alleges.
The information charges Addison, 30, of Chicago, with one count of wire fraud. Arraignment in federal court in Chicago has not yet been scheduled.
The charge was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sunil R. Harjani represents the government.
According to the information, Addison began his scheme after discovering that Reserve’s software did not prevent reservations from users who entered a fake email address or a fake phone number. Addison made reservations using names such as “Hans Gruber,” “Richard Ashcroft” and “Jimmy Smits,” bogus email addresses such as “email@example.com,” and fake phone numbers such as “199-999-99999,” the information states.
Addison made the reservations on his own accord and did not personally profit from the scheme, the information states.
The public is reminded that an information is not evidence of guilt. The defendant is presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If convicted, the Court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.