Scammers are targeting Indianapolis restaurants, claiming for thousands of dollars they will get viral food critic Keith Lee to come to the businesses.
Lee, a professional MMA fighter, has become one of the most influential food reviewers on TikTok, with over 16 million followers. His reviews typically consist of him eating takeout in his car and rating every detail, including the service he received.
Since his reviews can sometimes make or break a restaurant, owners always try to get his attention, which these scammers in Indianapolis took advantage of. He addressed the scam in a video for his followers.
"I would rather not make this video but it's come to my attention, people scamming on my behalf and I don't want nobody falling victim to it," said Lee.
The social media star said it was leaked to the public that he would be in Indianapolis for the NBA All-Star Game Weekend.
Scammers took advantage of the information, going to local restaurants and charging anywhere from $7,000 to $20,000 promising Lee would dine at their restaurant, and bring with him a crowd of new customers.
"That's not true," Lee said. "We're going to Indianapolis for the game, and the game only. Yes, we might try some food while we're there. But we're not going there for the food tour."
Lee said he never charges restaurants he reviews for his appearance or publicity.
"No place that we go to do we charge small restaurants for anything. We don't charge for reviews. We don't charge if there's a line out the door. We don't charge even if you open three or four locations after we leave. At no point do I want any money from any small restaurant," Lee goes on. "I'm not charging those restaurants anything. And if anybody has ever told you anything differently, they’re lying. They’re not with me.”
Lee continued, “If you are a restaurant owner and you see me while we are in Indianapolis, don't come to me and my family and say, ‘You took this money and you didn't show up for a review.’ I didn't take no money. I'm not showing up for a review. I didn't promise anything. I'm going to play basketball. I don't want no smoke.”
This story was originally published by Jacqueline White at Scripps News Indianapolis.
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