By Mike Pomranz
Updated March 24, 2016
Credit: © Caroline Cortizo / Alamy Stock Photo

Not all food festivals are created equal. Some, it turns out, are actually scams. And I’m not just talking about the ones that give you servings so small you can barely see what you’re eating. Those fests are just annoying. These fraudsters are reportedly actually stealing people’s money.

Consumer Reports recently ran an article warning “Beware of fake food festivals” discussing the scourge of awesome sounding food-centric events advertised across the country that have been collecting ticket fees online via a credit card, but then never actually happening.

In the past three months, similar sounding events with names like “Hot Garlic Crab Feed,” “The Super Crab Festival” and “The Dungeness Crab Association” have been touted in 21 different cities, starting in San Francisco and spreading across the country from Los Angeles to Philadelphia. They offer deals such as $49 for all-you-can-eat crab and other grub or $99 for VIP tickets that include turf with your surf. The promotors even provide an actual location, but when ticket purchasers show up, nothing is there. Even more frustrating is that these advertisements are popping up in legitimate places like Groupon, local radio stations and newspapers.

As Consumer Reports points out, “While you can always battle fraudulent charges with the help of your bank or credit card company, it’s best to avoid being suckered in the first place.” Their advice: Keep an eye out for shady looking websites, strange redirects that take you to a different site when you actually pay and contact information that doesn’t work (like dead phone numbers or emails that bounce back). Or to put it another way, if you’re looking to attend a food festival, remember to think with your head as well as your stomach. There are plenty of legitimate and awesome food events out there, but a little Googling never hurt anyone.