You might have been ordering Seamless from a fake business

Sure, it's tasty. But who really put their hands on your food? via Flickr user John

Sure, it’s tasty. But who really put their hands on your food? via Flickr user John

The delivery food empire just got served.

After conducting a lengthy investigation, NBC’s I-team released a shocking exposé today that outed fake Seamless and Grubhub listings posing as actual restaurants. In other words, if you’d ordered food from them, you’d still get it, but the business itself was nowhere to be found. 

According to one restaurant owner caught in the act of advertising under a false name and address, this kind of behavior is just an “open secret” businesses use to get a leg-up on the competition. They’ll create Grubhub accounts under multiple names, say they’re located wherever they damn well please (in many cases, investigators ended up at empty lots or residential addresses), and use these “delivery shells” to cover up health code violations for the actual business.

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Lo mein locale: nowhere to be found. via NBC

I mean, maybe one day, but it’s certainly not a restaurant now. via NBC

Think about it: those starred reviews you see before making your selection have been written by folks who ordered their food, and got what they ordered efficiently, or just enjoyed the taste. There’s no real policing the state of the kitchen itself. And if you do get seriously sick from your food, websites like Seamless and Grubhub aren’t legally liable. So if you can’t find the restaurant that served you, you’re SOL and knee-deep in a four-figure bill for the emergency hospital visit.

Yikes. Thankfully, the I-team’s report has spurred Grubhub and Seamless to “remove inaccuracies” on their respective websites. But in the meantime, you might just want to make your own stir-fry.