The food delivery company, Deliveroo, decided to play an April Fools’ prank on its French customers last week. However, customers who received fake confirmation emails from the company for over €450 worth of pizza failed to see the funny side. Instead, Deliveroo customers believed that their accounts had been hacked.
The Scam an April Fools’ Joke
On April 1, Deliveroo decided to play an April Fools’ day prank on its French customers. The company sent fake confirmation emails to thousands of its app users. The confirmation email included the customers’ first name. And stated that they had ordered 38 anchovy pizzas at a total price of €466.40. It also stated that Deliveroo would throw in 50 sachets of spicy sauce for free as a loyalty bonus.
Unfortunately, Deliveroo’s April Fools’ prank backfired as many of its customers did not realize that the emails were a joke. Instead, they thought that their Deliveroo app accounts had been hacked. And that they were about to be charged exorbitant amounts of money for pizza they did not order. One customer stated on Twitter that he “almost had a stroke” when he received the fake confirmation email.
Instead of laughing, thousands of customers went into panic mode and rang their banks to try and stop the payment. Deliveroo was also inundated with phone calls from customers trying to stop the fake orders.
Joke to Close to Reality
The problem with Deliveroo’s April Fools’ trick was that it was too close to reality. It was not obvious that it was a joke. It bore disturbing similarities to actual phishing scams in which emails arrive in people’s inboxes supposedly for expensive orders. These emails trick unsuspecting recipients to click on links included in the email to steal their online accounts’ information or personal details.
Once Deliveroo’s customers realized that the emails were fake, many of them took to social media to express their anger. “This is chicken-brain communications,” one angry customer tweeted. Other customers called for some form of compensation for the stress caused, mainly in the form of free pizzas. Others were so appalled that they deleted the Deliveroo app from their smartphones.
Nonetheless, a few people on social media did see the funny side.
Eventually Deliveroo realized that their April Fools’ stunt had backfired. Consequently, on 2 April, late in the evening, Deliveroo France issued a statement on Twitter apologizing for the prank. The tweet confirmed that the emails had not been serious and that it had been a failed April Fools’ joke. The statement went on to say:
“We are deeply sorry. Especially since the security of your data is top priority, and under no circumstances should we have led you to believe, even only as a joke, that your data may have been compromised. We apply strict security procedures, so that your data is always perfectly protected. Your trust is paramount to us, and we hope you will accept our apologies.”
On the positive side, no French Deliveroo customers were actually scammed or lost any money. However, this stunt has shown how difficult it is for people to identify real phishing scams when they receive them.