Hate Crime Accusation Is Fraudulent, Shows Whole Food's Video Surveillance

This pastor in Austin, TX posted a video on YouTube claiming that he ordered a cake from Whole Foods and requested they decorate the cake to say 'Love Wins' - but that the cake they delivered to him actually said 'Love Wins FAG'.

Here's his YouTube claim (posted by a law firm that the pastor must have retained for future actions against Whole Foods, i.e. lawsuits):

[UPDATE: he has removed the video]

Less than 24 hours later, Whole Foods posted their response (and their own YouTube video [below]) disputing what happened and calling the guy's claim a fraud, vowing to take him down for his fraudulent claims (their words).

The guy in the peach shirt is the pastor - he comes down the right side to the register at the front:

How much money do you think this quick response using video surveillance saved Whole Foods?

I pose this question, because many people talk about how hard it is to quantify the value of video surveillance. Quantifying 'things that don't happen' is very tough...

This example (imo) shows return on investment that doesn't show up on any line item.


The argument that video will reduce your liability (and thus your cost of doing business) is as old as dirt. Since the example is about retail--yes, retailers get it. "Slip-and-fall" is a classic. But while they can probably quantify what they pay out per year in legal fees and settlements (or more likely insurance rates), it's more difficult for you to quantify exactly how much the video evidence will mitigate those expenses, and thus what the precise ROI is going to be on your video. The fraudsters have been playing cat and mouse with the retailers for years and while the benefits of video are why many retailers have any video at all, they're in such a low margin business if you can't give them precise ROI numbers they'll remain tight with their budget.

How in the world did this guy think this story was going to fly? I mean, the WF surveillance video isn't really even relevant to me. In his video, he shows how easy it is to see into the cake box. He would have surely seen the word "FAG" on the cake with even a mere glance at the cake when he picked it up at the bakery counter! How are we to believe that he simply didn't see it until he arrived home?

Agree.

Also notice how the first thing he mentions is that the box is sealed. Speaking like a magician before a trick.

IMHO, he would had a better chance leaving the tag on the top, or moving it slightly, where you could claim it partially obscured the window.

Btw, if I were the DA here, I'd go for 1st degree cake tampering, because it's clearly pre-meditated, who writes at the top of a cake with nothing in the middle?

There are plenty of idiot comprised juries that would gladly "stick it to the man" even if it is a a green friendly place like Whole Paycheck.

It's too bad the video quality is so 2001, I know the security rep that deals with a majority of the Whole Foods, will have to call her and give her a hard time.

It's too bad the video quality is so 2001...

That bad? The framerate sucks for sure, but it's an HD or better camera don't you think?

Tell us why you think it is 'HD or better'. YouTube says it is 480p and the video itself looks no better than that.

I have no idea what the camera was capable of, but is it possible that one of these is also true;

1) The video exported was a substream recording

2) The video was transcoded when uploaded

That would be a huge AOV for a non HD camera. I am hoping that isn't the case here.

Anything is possible, but it is imprudent to assume that the video is "HD or better" given what Whole Foods has shared. Indeed, given that Whole Foods knows how sensitive this matter is, they have every incentive to show as clear and irrefutable evidence as possible.

Tell us why you think it is 'HD or better'.

Sure.

  1. The FOV
  2. It was late and I was tired :(

Seems pretty half baked to me... Esp. for 4-20.

This guy takes the cake.

Whole Foods video is not that impressive, in general. Wide FoV / VGA (it appears) / low frame rate.

Whole Foods says "the UPC label was in fact on top of the cake box, not on the side of the package." Can anyone see that clearly? I assume it's there but I can't make it out.

There seems to be a brief glimpse of the label as he brings it up to the counter, where it appears to be on top on the box and facing toward him. When the cashier scans it, it sure looks like he waves his scanner over the top of the box, and reaches toward the far side of it.

If the label was oriented the way it is in the original video, it would either be facing toward him and thus probably picked up on the countertop scanner, or the clerk would have to reach WAY over to scan it on the side of the box facing the customer.

Add to that, it seems really silly that the cake guy would put the label like that when it would generally require tilting the box enough to cause the cake to slide within and damage the frosting. Anyone who makes or loves cakes knows, you keep that box as flat and level as possible.

What would be the point of "sealing" a custom cake anyway? I can see it for a generic cake that sits in a display case, but in this case, you decorate it, box it, hand it to the customer... it's not like it sits in a publicly-accessible cooler in that state that would require protection in the form of sealing the box. Admittedly, I've only ever been in a Whole Foods once in my life and it wasn't for a cake, so I don't know what their practices are in this regard, but the whole idea seems sketchy to me. And like U1 says, he's trying WAY too hard to point out to us that it's "STILL SEALED".

I dunno, I'm not a lawyer, but I think I could destroy this guy on the stand.

Further stupidity:

He claims he told the bakery worker what he wanted and she went in the back, piped it out and labeled it and gave it to him.

Which would mean that this woman would have been prepared for this likely question

  • Baker: "Here you go, sir!
  • Pastor: "Why did you write 'Fag' on it?"

What could she have possibly said to that? Not,

  • Baker: "First because I have deep hidden hatred of homosexuals, like I'm guessing you probably are, second because I am quitting anyway, and third because you left the whole center of the cake open."

This guy gives professional con men a bad name.

I think most people would look at the cake for spelling, placement, color etc, but maybe the guy was getting the cake for someone else, was tired or put something on top of the box and just didn't pay attention.

I really don't understand why anyone would want to fake a slur, plus the surveillance video was just not clear enough to substantiate fraud. Unless this guy has a history of stirring the homophobic pot, I don't see how or why he could or would have added "Fag" to the cake.

The whole example is really lost on me.

The guy accusing Whole foods released a video zoomed in showing him opening the "sealed" cake box by cutting the label. However in his video the UPC code and label are on the bottom of the box. The security footage clearly shows the label on the top and the clerk scanning bar code in that area. The two videos together are what makes Whole Food's case.

I might be missing something but how is the video a slam-dunk for Whole-Foods? Is it just that the Pastor had plenty of opportunity to see the top of his cake? He put his wallet on top of the cake box as well and couldn't he claim the glare from the lights in the store obstructed his view through the plastic clear top of the cake box? I think the point of course is valid but I think Whole Foods could use some better quality cameras and more of them, perhaps one per lane or register IMHO.

Have you never picked up a cake at a bakery? They ask you what you want on the cake. You of course will look at the cake the second they hand it to you. You will be able to easily see the cake through the window of the cake box. There is ZERO chance you leave that store without knowing that the word is there.

Greg, the slam dunk of the video evidence is that it show the UPC label was moved from the top to the side, which should be enough to convince anyone who wished to believe that he somehow missed seeing the mistake right after he was handed the cake.

Agreed. If the label is applied as it appears to be in the store's video (not just in the still, but in the cashier's movement when he scans it), it wouldn't even reach around far enough to seal the box closed... yet in the "pastor's" video, he makes a very big deal about the box being sealed by that label.

Both sides dropped their cases against each other today. The "victim" has come clean, admitting to the hoax.

Jon, thanks for sharing. Good to know. Also, interestingly, the 'victim' has hidden his original video of him sobbing.