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$200K Tip for Bartender Sounds Like a Scam

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By Aditi Mukherji, JD on September 13, 2013 9:08 AM

Sorry to dash your balla-guardian-angel dreams, but the St. Louis bartender who received a jaw-dropping $200,000 tip was probably the victim of a scam.

Two sisters walked into a bar and imbibed more than $100 in drinks. One of the sisters footed the bill and left the bartender an ever-so-modest $200,000 tip. The flabbergasted bartender posted a photo of the tip on Reddit which (understandably) went completely viral, reports The Huffington Post.

Sound a little too good to be true? (Spoiler alert: It is.)

Credit Card Limits

Good-faith attempts to pay astronomical tips apparently happen more often than people realize. Some people are swept up by an extraordinary spirit of generosity when they win the lottery or jackpot at a casino, make bank from a settlement or inheritance, or are fantastically wealthy but terminally ill with little time left, according to HuffPo.

But alas, despite the patrons' well-meaning intentions, banks don't clear excessive tip payments.

When a cardholder leaves an excessive tip (for example, a $50 tip on a sale of $50, which is 100 percent gratuity), the card-issuing bank can dispute the charge as not authorized, according to Vantage Card Services. If the payment isn't authorized by the cardholder, then the transaction will be voided completely.

Premeditated Scam

While some folks who pencil in outrageous tips are true-to-life Daddy Warbucks types, a fair number of big-time tippers are actually trying to scam businesses and their unsuspecting employees, according to The Huffington Post.

Here's how it works: First, scammers wine and dine and write in a staggering tip amount. When the abnormal amount catches the bank's attention, the scammer tells the bank it's fraudulent. The bank then cancels the transaction in full.

According to various anecdotes posted by Reddit users, this flavor of "tip-friendly scams" happens with relative frequency.

At the end of the day, an excessive tip that can't be processed will be a loss that your business will have to absorb, so it's best to have precautions in place to prevent it from happening. This may include setting policies for monitoring risk associated with tips that exceed your 20 percent variance authorization protections.

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