Buyer Beware: WNY restaurants warn about potential online gift-card scam

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) –  Area restaurants say a California-based company is selling unauthorized gift cards to Buffalo eateries online. Treatgiftcards.com says it sells vouchers to a large number of the area’s big names in dining.

Now some restaurants say the company is taking advantage of their good names. Martha Nigro is the Manager at Shango Wine Bistro in Buffalo.

She said, “The respect that I have for the company that I work for, it’s just not right all over the board. Its just not right.”

She recently heard about treatgiftcards.com. She says the site is trying to take advantage of the reputations of eateries here without ever contacting any of them.

She said, “There’s a company out of California that’s scamming and selling these cards illegally on the internet. And they’re being purchased in our area for our restaurants.”

The site appears to be selling gift cards that look like credit cards for the value you want to put on the card plus a $6.95 fee. It functions like a preloaded cash card just with the logos of area restaurants printed on them.

Nigro said, “I know our restaurant is one of the ones online to purchase, so we’ve been watching.”

The Better Business Bureau out of San Francisco tells us this is a new test- website, and in the development stages. In fact, if you were to physically purchase a gift card from the website you’d get a message saying the company isn’t ready to sell anything yet, and its too “new.”

But area restaurant owners say they’re are now frustrated the company gives the illusion they are affiliated with Western New York restaurants,

Nigro advises, “Go directly to the restaurant and purchase your gift cards. Especially now through the holiday season. There are going to be so many of them being bought, don’t buy them online go directly to the restaurant of your choice.”:

In fine print at the bottom of the website page is a brief disclaimer. “all trademarks and brand names belong to their respective owners. Use of these trademarks and brand names do not represent endorsement by or association with this card program. All rights reserved.”

We’ve reached out the the CEO of the company  that runs the website for comment but have not yet heard back.

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