Barletta to cease trading – impact of bank scam blamed

Jackson and Natalia of Barletta

The couple behind Barletta restaurant have announced they are to cease trading at Turner Contemporary after December 9 due to ‘the financial impact’ of a bank scam.

Jackson Berg and Natalia Ribbe say the loss of £50,000 from their business accounts has left them unable to continue the Barletta business and they are withdrawing from the gallery.

A statement from the couple says: “We are deeply saddened to share the news that Barletta will be closing its doors. The impact of fraudulent activity on our bank account, compounded by the increase in energy bills and cost of living crisis, has made it impossible for us to carry on. This was not the outcome we were hoping for, but it is the one we must make.

“Our last day of trading will be Friday 9th December. In the lead up to our final day we will cook off all the hits (yes, those carrots) and end with one last dinner to say farewell. Barletta has given us such an adventure, from Dreamland to Urchin Wines, Barletta on the roof to the Rose in June.

“We hope you will come and celebrate these last few years of Barletta. We cannot thank enough our loyal guests, the team at Turner Contemporary and as always, the town of Margate for making us feel so loved.

“Lastly, to everyone who donated to help keep us afloat, a refund can be requested at any time. Any remaining funds will be donated to Hospitality Action, who supports hospitality businesses facing challenging times.”

The couple say initially small amounts were taken from an account but then scammers used a sophisticated ruse to trick them into believing Natalia was talking to a bank official on the phone. She was persuaded to move the money to a new ‘uncompromised’ account but this was a fraud leading to the loss of the money.

Natalia says the online banks are in the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) but the couple are not covered due to it being an authorised push payment scam.

The Isle of Thanet News contacted online bank Tide which says it has done all it can and managed to retrieve a portion of the money – understood to be around £2000.

A spokesperson for Tide said: “We are very sorry for the loss the owners of Barletta have suffered. We appreciate this type of scam is incredibly hard on small businesses. We continuously encourage all of our members to be vigilant and visit our website where we offer advice on fraud prevention.

“In this case, once we were informed of the fraud, we contacted the bank where the money had been transferred on the same day and were able to recover some of the money that remained in the account. Unfortunately, the rest of the money had been moved on.

“We have investigated the matter thoroughly and believe we did all we could to recover as much of the money as we could as quickly as possible.”

A fundraiser was launched to recoup the losses but the couple now say it is impossible to continue with Barletta – which has 17 staff – as they are unable to meet financial obligations.

Staff have been informed of the decision this morning (November 30).

Barletta opened at Turner Contemporary last year following residencies at Dreamland, Urchin Wines, the former Ziggy’s rooftop bar and the Rose in June. The pair have also just opened Sète wine bar and restaurant in Northdown Road, which Natalia says they will ‘continue to build.’.

A Turner Contemporary spokesperson said: “Barletta took on the café and catering at Turner Contemporary in February 2021.

“However, the impact of a fraudulent act on their bank account, compounded by the increase in energy bills and the cost-of-living crisis, has made it impossible for them to continue in this role. They have therefore taken the decision to leave the gallery and cease trading.

“Turner Contemporary will explore opportunities for a new food offer in the new year.”


  1. They need to get on to the Telegraph. Katie Morley is the journalist. Not sure if she will investigate as this is a business and its usually individuals she helps.

    As I mentioned before, she has got banks to cough up for a lot less than this.

    • Banks will only cough up if they are in the wrong: if a cash machine has been interfered with, a some bank process went wrong, and money was wrongly processed.
      In this case, it was not the bank’s fault. The victims were bamboozled into believing it was the bank legitimately intervening on their behalf. The victims initiated and authorized the payment.

      • FOS have got money back where the victims have authorised payments, and as we dont know the finer details (do we?) its worth a shot.

        National press is quicker option as banks dont like that, but as a business they might not get any help like an individual would, so FOS might be only way.

    • Yep, lot of money to give up on. They need national attention from BBC Morning Live/Watchdog type shows/Matt Allwright, write to Kate as you say-all this puts a lot of pressure on the bank that the various Kent websites I have seen covering it cannot & whatever the other one claims to be & they normally cave in & give all, or most of the money back.

    • Unnecessarily harsh.
      The perpetrators of these scams are extremely sophisticated and plausible.
      Many, many people, usually the elderly, fall victim to these scams every year.

      • Some might be, but the majority are not remotely sophisticated or plausible. It is Dave from London who sounds like Rahul from Mumbai telling you your bank account has been hacked & needs your account details, or you to download software to let them take control of your PC/move your money to their ‘safe account’ or pretending to be from BT or Microsoft with a similar routine.

        The overwhelming majority(probably 90-95%) of this type of fraud could be prevented simply be people putting the phone down-we have been told countless times that banks, BT etc will never make calls or behave like this & would never have any issue with you calling them back on a trusted number you have or can find, nor shout at you to do as they say now or else.

        Simply taking 5-10 seconds to think logically about what is happening would be enough to confirm it is a scam. The police, trading standards & many other groups have spent decades bombarding us with what to do via newspapers, television, websites etc & yet still people give their bank details to total strangers on the phone in minutes, download spying software from a link they provide, click on dodgy e-mails, go outside PayPal at these vermins request etc despite eBay telling us over & over not to use Western Union or any other transfer company than PayPal.

        • Bang on Steve! Last week it was reported some 70,000 people were scammed by someone phoning them out of the blue, asking them for their bank details, which they readily handed over, and in some cases had their life savings stolen, Duuurh! Why are people so gullible?

          • Yep & that is just the UK, apparently it was a worldwide scam, so cannot imagine how much they got. One lost 3 million alone & I cannot feel sorry for people that rich-who nearly always are not happy with their millions & fall for boiler room scams to get even richer due to their greed.

  2. Be good to know if the Turner and therefore the public purse will be left out of pocket by this and whether all creditors and employees will be paid in full, along with suppliers. Whether that is from this business or the pairs new wine bar business. An update would be useful. Wasn’t there a Crowdfunder as well?

  3. The unkind comments left here about these people is shocking. You should be ashamed. I personally know the owners and they are devastated that it has come to this. I run my own business and know there are pitfalls , but running a business in this extremely hard time in the UK is bloody hard , especially in the service industry as it’s one of the first things to go, yet the owners survived through COVID and would have done through this winter fuel and economic crisis.

    Gloating or kicking them when they are down is a terrible thing to do. I hope these guys can get back on their feet and work in Thanet again soon.

    • They’ve failed to pay turner rent for at least this financial year whilst opening. A business that sells wine at £75 a bottle in one of the poorest areas of the country

  4. Guess that is the issue with using obscure banks rather than the big boys. Tide describes itself as not even being a bank, but a ‘Business Financial Platform’ whatever that means.

  5. Steve..Revolut the same…avoid. not protections

    What i dont get and no one has explained is — “initially small amounts were taken from an account but then scammers used a sophisticated ruse”

    If a third party can take even a penny from your account then they can take the lot…so how did they get the “small amount” and why need a sophisticated ruse ??????

    • I think from the original story it sounds like somehow they clicked on a scam link, or had an earlier call & gave details that led to one of the accounts details being in the hands of the scammers.

      They then made small test purchases on that account to arouse their suspicions, then phoned up pretending to be the bank & got the details of the other account/told them to transfer all the money from that account/both accounts to another specially created account to wipe them out. Best guess only based on how these parasites work from past cases & the lack of exact detail .

      • The scammers could not have moved £50,000 without the agreement (misguided) of the account holder.
        If I try to move even a few tens of pounds to a regular recipient, I get a requirement to enter a one time pass code, sent to my phone.
        I’m curious to know how the scammers got their hands on the first few small transactions.
        It’s possible they didn’t. They get you to log into your bank account, then they edit the HTML on your screen to look as if there have been some dodgy transactions…. and so it begins.

        • They could only do that if they have directed you to a spoof webpage for the bank that they have created, rather than you actually typing it into Google & going to the legitimate site. Or you have at their behest downloaded Team Viewer or suchlike & let them have control of your machine/got you to download a malicious virus keylogging software link & installed it.

          What I do find amazing is the bank/banks didn’t seem bothered when they reported the small payments they couldn’t explain & didn’t find these large sums being moved suspicious.

          As I said in the original story when you have banks calling you to check your 50 or 60 quid home delivery from Asda, Waitrose etc is really you, then how on earth can 50 grand suddenly being moved not trigger any alarm? They have a case for gross negligence against these banks or as one calls itself financial platform.

          • The £50,000 was moved by, and with the approval of, the account holder. What more can the bank do?
            I suspect the Team Viewer explanation.

    • A similar thing happened to me recently, basically I signed up online for a service that only cost 50 pence, somewhere in the small print it said I had two days to cancel, luckily my bank Lloyds thought it was a scam and blocked my card from any telephone/online transactions which confused me.
      After visiting the bank in Cecil Square i became informed of this, spoke to the fraud department of lloyds who refunded me, it was only £30.
      The next step Lloyds took was to put a nationwide stop on this company.
      Perhaps using a bank that actually has a branch where you can go in and speak to someone is actually worth it rather than online only.

      • Sorry i missed out a pertinent point, if after the two days it became a recurring subscription membership for £29.90 per month, just like a gym etc, the amounts are quite small so you may not pick up on them. This is very similar to Amazon prime e.g. try free of charge for one month then they simply start billing you for the service each month. These types of practices are very common.

      • Yes-although the big banks are shutting branches, most still have at least one with a counter inside you can get too fairly easily & the fraud you mention is quite common with cheap subscriptions etc that say you will only be charged x amount for a one-off payment & then they start taking 10 quid a month or just empty your account. If it sounds too good to be true & you aren’t going to get anything for 50p or a quid, then it is.

        • Steve,

          Totally agree with you, I can only comment 0n my own bank.

          With regards to the subscrition, I was in the process of applying for a DBS, this came up and I just thought “why not, it is only 50 pence, what have I got to lose”, the rest is history and it certainly opened my eyes. I now have two accounts, one which does not have a card, the one that does have a card I keep minimal funds in for online transactions etc. When speaking to people the respnose i get is I will check to see this is happening to me. Just wanted to share with a wider audence.

          • That’s a very good idea. Keep the majority of your funds in a separate account, one which cannot be accessed by credit or debit card. Just keep enough in your current account to pay your regular bills.
            That’s what I do.

  6. I guess they must have checked their insurance in case any loss against fraud is included? If such a thing exists for this type of fraud.

  7. All this could have been avoided if they simply offered to contact their bank directly using only the contact number provided by the bank, and then only discussing transactions of sizable financial magnitude via a face to face meeting.

    Never, ever reveal account details before politely declining whatever action is requested of you over the phone either.

    It’s 2022, and it’s astonishing scams like this could even work on restaurant owners deemed good enough to satify the palates of the art club jet set.

    Used them and it’s lovely food. Shame they couldn’t continue because £50k is not an enormous sum for a restaurant business and judging by their continued patronage by the time of the scam; I’m inclined to think it wasn’t very profitable, or some other undisclosed issue led them to close?

  8. There has been a lot of reporting on this case. But some important questions needed to asked by Isle of Thanet News:

    • Thank you for the comment. I did try to answer via email but the address appears not to exist. I have actually asked these questions. As you can see Turner Contemporary’s statement is not an answer to those questions and until/unless there is evidence on which to prove any statements then it is something I could not legally publish (hence why your questions aren’t showing). Companies House accounts for Barletta are up to June 2021 so do not reflect the financial situation some 18 months on.

  9. I do feel sorry for these people. However I was scammed last year for £500 in a way neither I nor Lloyds Bank know exactly how. The scammers sent a text to my mobil phone, no idea how they got the number as I keep it close to those that need it but not hard to find out I guess,, saying an unauthorised withdrawal had been taken from my account and I needed to ring the fraud number of Lloyds bank. I did make the mistake of not using another phone but I don’t do banking on my mobil phone ever and still don’t. So there was no way they could scam via my mobile as no bank details were ever given or logged on it.
    Lloyds repaid the money the same day even before I could get through to them.. I did check my computer for malware etc and none found. I must have done something wrong somewhere but never have found out where. Lloyds said the scammers are so good they are almost undetectable these days. I have never had small amounts taken before either, just one large hit.
    Some where they got hold of all my bank details and maybe just lucky on finding my memorable info. that only I know and is never written done let alone stored. After this I still use internet banking but check every day for anything not paid by me. One thing I did do afterwards was wipe the computer and phone completely and reinstalled the operating system, a right pain but useful to do in the circumstances. Also changed bank details of course.
    Bloody clever these scammers are, I do still think it might have been a fault at Lloyds Bank and not mine but we will never know. Using a big name banks is best for me I think.

    • I think that scammers changing on your username, password and memorable info are extremely remote. It would take a seriously good cracker program at least an hour to crack an 8 digit password. Then the scammer’s got to defeat your memorable phrase.

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