The Secret Life of Scammers

By: max n rubie

Jun 27 2012

Category: Today at the Winery

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Food scammers that is.

Two food scammers in particular.

Max n Rubie. Of Americana Winery.

We are the FBI (Food Beggars Investigators) and we’ve taken over the weekly blog of these two seemingly innocent, but actually clever, crafty con-artists, to give you a heads up. We know that Americana is having a very big weekend this weekend with their 31st Birthday/4th of July BBQ Bash Saturday, preceded by music Friday night and followed by more music Sunday afternoon. And we know a lot of you are planning on going to one or all of these events. So we want you to come into this weekend with your eyes open!

Unsuspecting, kind-hearted guests often fall prey to this seasoned pro.

Beware of these two! Sure they look unassuming and lovable. It is all part of their master plan. Around here we call them the “Thelma and Louis” of food scammers. They are professionals! And we want to fill you in on their techniques so you are prepared.

Max n Rubie, aka Thelma & Louis already sizing up their “marks” even as they get out of their cars.

Throughout this ALERT, we will be providing you with a series of surveillance photos that capture these two in the act.

Their Prime Scene:
Americana, particularly their outdoor venues — the back lawn, Pavilion and breezeway.

Their “hunting grounds” are the grounds of Americana.

Their Forte:
Scamming food during outdoor concerts and picnics, where their “targets” are distracted by music, wine, food and the great outdoors.
Note: They particularly like small children who are easily convinced to relinquish their food, and people who are talking, laughing and dancing and not paying attention to their food. 

Kids+Music+Picnic=Prime Target (Our suspect looks so seemingly unaware of what’s going on, but don’t let her fool you. She knows your EVERY move.)

Modus Operandi:
The “Sweet Eye” — They give you the “look” — somewhat pathetic, somewhat longing — which is meant to disarm you — and de-food you.

Caught in the act of giving the “Sweet Eye”

The “Head Nudge” — They come up to your table and put their head on your arm, like they are looking for a pet. Catching you off guard, they gently nudge your arm to get you to drop your fork or piece of food you are holding so that it drops to the ground.

The “Head Nudge”

The “Seated Stare” — They sit by you, and stare you down. This may be accompanied by what we ascertain to be an involuntary licking of the chops or a calculated raising of the paw and either brushing your leg or simply pawing into the air. This is so precious it often results in you voluntarily hand feeding them a treat.

The “Seated Stare”

The “Eye Shift Fake Out” — This is Rubie’s specialty. She will sit or stand by you and look at you unassumingly. When she has your attention, she will nonchalantly shift her gaze away like she wasn’t looking at you in the first place. This will instantly make you feel like she’s not paying attention to you (but oh, she is) and you will give her food to gain her attention.

The “Eye Shift Fake Out”

The “Possum”  — They lay next to you in what looks like exhaustion. You absently bend down to pet them, and they sigh and rest their heads on their paws and look as if they are going to sleep, but the second — and we mean the second — you pull your hand away and return to your conversation, glass of wine, or meal, they are sniffing the ground around your chair for any morsel you might have dropped, and gobble it up, then instantly return to their “sleeping” stance.

The “Possum”

The “Distraction” — This is the easiest one for the duo to execute. They work the grounds as a team, looking for unattended guest encampments. People may be up dancing (ah why the bands are actually their best unwitting accomplice), running into the winery or restrooms, playing games with the kids, or off chatting with their neighbors. When one partner spots a “mark” he or she signals the other with either a quick tail wag or a head nod. While one stands guard, the other rummages the perimeter for food remnants. After they’ve picked the site clean, they move on to the next.

The “Distraction”

So what can you do to protect yourself? Well, not much. They’re cute. They’re wily. And they’re patient. All you can really do is know what you’re getting yourself into. So on that note, here are some times you should be on high alert to their chicanery over the weekend:

Friday night: 6-8 Steve Southworth & the Rockabilly Rays
This is a big popular band in the Finger Lakes, and the grounds are likely to be packed with folks. On top of that, the radio stations of the Cayuga Radio Group will be there doing live remotes to get the big weekend started. Dave Ashton of Lite Rock 97.3fm, Chris Allinger of QCountry 103.7fm, and Aaron Terkel of 98.7 The Vine will be on site helping to stir up the crowd. This means extra distraction, which equals easy pickings for the dynamic duo.

Working the perimeters of the stage prior to the band going on. Looking for their “ins”

Saturday: 12-10pm BBQ Bash
Music: There are 5 bands playing over the course of the day. And with music comes dancing. And with dancing comes unattended food. The pair lives for this. Here is the band schedule so you understand what you’re up against:
Pete Panek 12:00pm
Sim Redmond Trio 2:00pm
The Radio Yardvarks 4:00pm
Purple Valley 6:00pm
Blue Plate Special 8:00pm
BBQ: The second threat is the food. And there will be a lot of it. And , as the menu consists of many of their favorites, the team will be particularly ruthless in their pursuit:
BBQ Chicken, Italian or Andouille Sausage with Peppers & Onions on Roll, Smoked BBQ Ribs
Salt Potatoes, Baked Beans, Potato Salad, Pasta Salad
Cookies, Watermelon

If you let down your guard, you and your food will soon part ways.

Food Vendors: As if the BBQ isn’t enough, there is going to be a lot of other food available that they will be setting their sites on including:
Cayuga Lake Creamery
Maria’s Original Baklava
Chef William’s Creations
Wine Specials: The winery is running several outstanding wine specials all weekend long. And let’s call a spade a spade, shall we? A few glasses of wine, and your guard is down. And when your guard is down, your food is gone, if these cunning canines have their way:
Red, White & Blue:
Barn Raising Red, Americana White & Crystal Lake are priced at a throwback $7.99 a bottle for the weekend, or get one of each for $25 (incl. tax).
Summer Grill Specials:
Finger Lakes Chablis $9.99
(perfect with grilled chicken, curried chicken salad, shrimp cocktail or shrimp sate, pasta salad)
Revolutionary Red $10.99
(perfect with burgers, and cheese, and especially blue cheese burgers)
Fireworks: At 10pm a fireworks display to rival any big community will go off on the other side of the pond. And this is the piece de resistance. Your eyes on the sky, their noses in your picnic. When the show’s over, your food’s gone.

When your eyes are on the sky, their eyes are on your food!

Sunday: 4-6 Bob and Dee
This duo plays all over the Finger Lakes and has people on their feet wherever they go. Again, when you’re up they’re scrounging. Beware.

We hope you come for to Americana for this wonderful weekend of food, music, wine and good fun. And we hope this public service announcement has helped to better prepare you for what you will encounter. Yes, Max n Rubie are sweet and cute. But never forget they are professional scammers. An aware guest is a happy guest.

Be on the lookout for this innocent look. It is the precursor to the ensuing food scam.

On behalf of the Americana team, and of course Max n Rubie, we wish you a very happy, fun and safe start to the 4th of July! (And fear not, we’re turning the blog back over to the dogs next time.)

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