San Francisco police searching for 'Serial Refund Scammer'

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Some restaurant business owners in San Francisco's Richmond District want police to stop a man they're calling the "serial refund scammer." (KGO-TV)

San Francisco restaurants are on the lookout for an accused serial scammer. He wears a suit and looks like any legitimate customer, but quite a few restaurants in the Richmond District want police to stop the man they're calling the "Serial Refund Scammer."

Business owners are sick of it. They say he's trying to take advantage of their hard-working employees. They say he's hit 13 other businesses along or near Clement Street. His story is always the same. His food was bad or had a hair in it, and he wants a refund. But business owners say he's lying.

Surveillance video shows the man, who calls himself "Ali," inside Nourish Cafe on Tuesday, demanding a refund for an order workers say he never bought. "He said he had been in the day before when actually we were closed that day," co-owner Sarah Bacon told ABC7 News.

She says he could not produce a receipt and his story kept changing. When questioned, he got aggressive. She filed a police report and alerted the Clement Street Merchants Association only to find out Ali has been at this for years and has tried the same trick at least 13 others businesses.

"He's just a bully. So it made me angry that he treated my staff that way, and that he felt he could go around the city and do this to other businesses," Bacon said.

Business owners say Ali always calls first, usually says there was a hair in his food, and then shows up in person. But he can never provide proof of purchase.
His plan didn't work at Pretty Please Bakeshop. "The way that technology is, even small mom and pops like us have tracking systems to be able to pull up transactions," owner Alison Okabayashi said.

But he did get a few free pizza's at Giorgio's before employees caught on. "Medium pepperoni pizza, and it's always the name, Ali. And it's always the same problem, a burnt pizza," owner Tony Markwick recalled.

Merchants hope getting the word out prevents any other business from getting scammed. They want Ali to leave them alone.

The Clement Street Merchants Associations says that employees should always ask for a recieipt before giving a refund and when in doubt, contact a manager.
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