New York State’s top prosecutor filed a lawsuit against a fraudulent company that had allegedly impersonated Brooklyn’s beloved Sahadi’s grocery store, and swindled nearly $100,000 from unsuspecting victims.
According to state Attorney General Letitia James, the scammers allegedly used a name and address similar to Sahadi Fine Foods Inc., and collected checks from people believing they were dealing with the iconic brand.
But the victims were not dealing with the real Sahadi’s grocery, which was established in 1895, and has since become a staple in the Brooklyn community with their flagship location on Atlantic Avenue, and their expansion store in Sunset Park’s Industry City. (The business became so beloved that it was added to the New York State Historic Business Preservation registry last year).
Instead, they were doing business with Sahadi Fine Foods Products Inc. — a name almost indistinguishable from the actual store’s parent company.
The scammers used the store’s real address, opened up a bank account, and diverted around $100,000 in checks into the illegitimate company’s bank account.
The lawsuit looks to dissolve the fake businesses and stop the string of scams overall.
“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.”
“I urge New Yorkers to be vigilant and file a complaint with my office if they believe that their name or address is being fraudulently used.”
The legitimate owners of Sahadi’s say they appreciate the Attorney General’s efforts to protect other Brooklyn shops from potential swindling.
“This fraud is causing real harm to small businesses,” Pat Whelan, an employee with Sahadi’s Fine Foods said in a statement. “We thank Attorney General James for taking quick action to stop these fraudsters and protect small businesses.
Alongside these scams, the AG’s office warns New Yorkers to be wary of mail from the New York Department of Taxation and Finance for businesses they are not associated with.
Attorney General James used the announcement of the new lawsuit to ask small businesses who believe they are a victim of this fraud to report it to her office.