Puccino’s Sends Out Racist Email, Claims “We Were Hacked”

A strip mall with a cafe on Veterans Highway, Metairie, Louisiana. Photo by Infrogmation of New Orleans.

On Friday, Metairie-based Puccino’s Coffee sent out a mass email filled with both COVID-19 related conspiracy theories and racist language. The email was sent using the coffee shop’s Constant Contact account and claimed to be from Puccino’s President Mike Williams.

“The only cure for the COVID-19 Pandemic is Herd Immunization,” the email states. “Vaccines, social distancing, masks and the “stay at home” mandates are all part of a bamboozle, a hoax.” The email goes on to repeat a  number of COVID-19 conspiracy theories including one stating masks cause illness rather than prevent it, and that “washing and sanitizing of hands is of little value aside from general personal hygiene.”

“After we get over the ‘OH my GODS, things are Bad Bad Bad,’ and stop to consider the bright spot. We have a big head start on most of the nation,” the email reads. “A very large number of our citizens have caught the virus, recovered, and are now immune.”

Unfortunately, it’s not certain that once you contract COVID-19 you can’t get it again, or that you can’t continue spreading the virus to others. South Korea has reported a significant number of people with COVID-19 tested positive again and have begun experiencing symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, and fatigue once again. In their email, Puccino’s claims that the virus is “destroyed by moving air and UV light i.e. sunlight.”

“So what are we waiting for, its summer the virus for the next few months is on the ropes. Get out there and socialize. Kiss a Chinamen on the lips. Snatch the microphones from the hands of the media. Tell the truth, the answer to the panic is Herd Immunization.”

The racist language is particularly concerning given the rise of xenophobic and racist incidents targeting the Asian American community in the U.S. According to the Anti-Defamation League, since January 2020 there have been a rash of similar incidents across the U.S., some of which have been made worse by public officials. President Trump has often referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus,” and recently told an Asian American reporter that she should “ask China that question” when she challenged him on his combative rhetoric surrounding the virus.

Shortly after the original email was sent, Puccino’s sent out a second email – this one proclaiming “We Were Hacked.”

“Puccions would like to apologize for any confusion over an earlier email this morning. Our email database and server were hacked by unknown entity (sic) and that email was sent out by the hacker. We have remedied the problem and we thank you for your patience.”

This wouldn’t be the first time a company using Constant Contact claimed they were hacked, though in recent months, the emails sent by hackers were of a different nature. In January 2020, Special Olympics New York’s Constant Contact account was hacked and used to send phishing emails to previous donors. A similar hack was reported by the City of Avon Lake, Ohio in February – also a phishing attack.

You can read the full contents of both emails below:


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