NYC restaurant loses $45K in cyberscam; temporarily closes

A NYC restaurant in Greenwich Village was forced to close after falling victim to a $45,000 cyberscam.

Gotham Restaurant has been in the neighborhood for decades, but for the first time since COVID-19, the business has again temporarily closed.

"We lost a fairly large amount of money in a cyberscam," said owner, Bret Csencsitz.

Csencsitz said he had to shut down for the summer after he was duped by cyberthieves, who stole $45,000 – money he planned to use to pay his employees.

"Our HR person receives an e-mail from our payroll company stating banking information has changed due to internal issues at the payroll company, and please update your banking records," Csencsitz said.

The email looked very legitimate, until you take a closer look at the address – it's off by just one letter, something Csencsitz didn't notice at first.

"In the morning at 8:30 in the morning, I wired the money to the payroll company, at which point that I usually get, I take a screenshot and I say wires been sent, please confirm receipt," Csencsitz  said.

But because his emails had already been hacked, Csencsitz was actually communicating with the cyberthieves.

He's telling his story to warn other businesses, saying "any banking change notification needs to be quadruple verified."

"When you receive communications from a bank, a client, a figure of authority, make sure that the communication is authenticated," said cybersecurity expert, Dr. Vahid Behzadan.

Csencsitz said he does plan to open the restaurant in the fall when many of his loyal customers return to the city from summer vacations. He hopes to be able to recoup the money lost in the cyberattack.