Is there a serial pizzeria prank caller on the loose?

Illustration for article titled Is there a serial pizzeria prank caller on the loose?
Photo: kzenon (iStock)

Welcome to season one, episode one of The Takeout’s new true-crime podcast, Cereal. We’re diving deep into some of the food world’s unsolved crimes, digging through court records and becoming paranoid about our levels of vocal fry. Join us in this inaugural episode, as we investigate a recent spate of pizza-ordering scams that’s now spread to two states—with no suspect in custody.

Host, Kate Bernot: I’m The Takeout’s Kate Bernot, and you’re listening to Cereal.

[45-second eerie intro music]

[Obligatory Squarespace ad]

Host: Ordering pizza should be an easy transaction. It happens across the nation every day. But for pizzerias, there’s a new threat, one they’re not prepared for: pizza-ordering pranks. This rash of prank orders began in Idaho and has since spread to California. Pizzerias say it’s costing them hundreds of dollars.


Voice of pizzeria owner 1: Of course you don’t expect it. Your day starts like any other day.

Host: Here’s how it works. Someone calls pizzerias to place a large order—in Redding, California, it was for 24 pizzas costing around $700—but then never pays for them or picks them up. It leaves pizzerias on the hook for all those unsold pies.

Voice of pizzeria owner 2: I didn’t take a credit card number because this has never happened before. You think you can trust people. Now, that trust is shattered.

[Obligatory Mail Kimp ad]

Host: Is this the work of one prank caller? We theorize that because the caller in the Idaho scam had a California area code, the two could be connected. Or is the California call just the work of a vicious copycat? That’s next time, on Cereal.


Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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President Zod

That’s nothing. In high school (80's), we used to use payphones to dial the 800 number for Power for Living. And were relentless.

We’d order copious free books for people. The PFL people would follow up with mailings, phone calls. They were insane people. But, it was all the rage in high school. Sometimes multiple copies would show up at people’s home. One poor kid figured he got about 30 copies in a 3 month period.

My friend’s mom had zero sense of irony or humor, and made my buddy actually read the damn book and present her with notes so they could discuss how this could possibly replace their own faith, and what went wrong that he would question said faith (Judaism, in this particular case).

Hilarious! Man, I loved high school in the 80's. I miss it.