Man posed as food bank employee to get free pizza, restaurant owner says

The owner confronted him and told him he couldn’t give him the pizza because he knew his story was phony. (SOURCE: WOIO)
Published: Aug. 13, 2023 at 7:49 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO/Gray News) - The owner of an Ohio pizza shop said a man posed as a food bank employee to try to score free pizza.

Pizza Fan in Cleveland was bought by 23-year-old Mithqal Kona and his family last summer. He said they try to give back to the community whenever they can.

“Honestly, I was surprised,” Kona said. “I thought it was serious like a donation. I’m like, I don’t mind, it’s our community, but it’s shocking.”

When he got a call from someone claiming to be from the food bank at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church, he agreed to donate two half-sheet pizzas.

“It sounded legit. The person who came and picked it up wasn’t the person who talked to me,” Kona said. “I guess it was his friend. He sounded professional, very professional.”

Kona checked with the church and spoke with a representative. WOIO also reached out to the church and learned the suspect was not from their food bank.

“She (the representative) was shocked,” Kona said. “She was like, ‘Let me go check with our people,’ and she asked the people with the food drive at the church, but the food drive, they did it in the morning, so she said, ‘Somebody’s trying to scam you guys.’”

The suspect was captured on the restaurant’s security cameras. When he came in, Kona confronted him and told him he couldn’t give him the pizza because he knew his story was phony.

“He (the suspect) told me, ‘Yeah; they ordered the pizza they told us you guys can donate to us. I’m gonna go double check with them. I’ll be back,’ and he never came back,” Kona said.

The suspect’s efforts were made all for less than $30 worth of pizza.

“Honestly, it’s disgusting,” Kona said. “You can’t expect people to give you free stuff if you’re not in need. He looked like he was dressed fine. He came in a nice Dodge car. It was beautiful.”

Kona wanted to share the surveillance video in case the man tries to pull the same stunt at other restaurants.

“I feel like he’s tried a lot of places,” Kona said. “I fell for it. I guess I’m too nice of a person. That’s the worst thing, just using the church’s name and people who are in need as well. It’s not a good thing.”

Kona said after the incident happened, he called the church back and offered to donate to their actual food bank. He said he hopes no one else will fall for this.