Nearly $100,000 was stolen from Brooklyn’s Middle Eastern grocery Sahadi’s Fine Foods by scammers pretending to be the historic business, according to a lawsuit filed by the New York Attorney General’s Office.
The con-artists set up a fake business with a nearly identical name as Sahadi Fine Food Inc. –and even listed the real establishment’s address — to swindle customers of the local institution and divert $100,000 in checks, according to the suit filed in Brooklyn Supreme Court last month.
AG Letitia James’ office is asking a judge to dissolved the bogus company — called Sahadi’s Fine Foods Products Inc. — as part of a larger push to put a stop to sham businesses that have been on the rise in the state.
“Fraudsters stealing identities to create fake companies can do real damage to unsuspecting New Yorkers,” James said in a statement.
“Small businesses and ordinary New Yorkers have fallen victim to this scheme and my office has taken action to shut down these fraudsters.”
Pat Whelan, the husband of Christine Sahadi Whelan and managing director of Sahadi’s – a Lebanese food purveyor that has been in business since 1895, according to its site – said: “This fraud is causing real harm to small businesses.”
“It’s easy, that’s what scares me,” Whelan told Crain’s. “And frankly, it hurts.”
She added: “We spent the last couple of years as a small business navigating through a world of pain. And having to deal with this on top of it? It’s not good.”
Sahadi’s – which has a cult-like following – was first opened in Manhattan’s “Little Syria” and then was relocated to the current location on Atlantic Avenue in 1948.
The company has stayed in the Sahadi family for generations and has expanded to include a cafe and it also caters private events, its website says.