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County Warns Restaurants About Food Inspector Impersonators

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The County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) is warning food facilities and other small businesses today about a fraudulent scheme in which a person calls claiming to be a health inspector introducing a new procedure for arranging a health inspection.

The phony health inspector asks the business owner to follow a procedure to get a special code to confirm the upcoming inspection. Later, the business owner receives a second call asking for the confirmation code. Of course, there is no such inspection and no real inspector arrives. This phony inspector scheme is part of a larger fraud involving setting up verified accounts with a national online auction service. The purpose of the code request is to get the small business owner to provide false verification to an online auction service. Part of the scheme is to establish a bogus online account to be used in other fraud schemes.

“The Department of Environmental Health is sending a letter to all food-related businesses to warn them of the scheme, which is targeting food business owners across California,” said Jack Miller, Director of the Department of Environmental Health.” “We are trying to protect food business owners by alerting them to this scam.”

To protect your business, remember:

• The County Department of Environmental Health only conducts “unannounced” food facility inspections. DEH never calls in advance to schedule this kind of inspection.

• No new DEH inspection procedure has been developed. Any caller identifying himself/herself as a health inspector asking you to participate in a code process is part of a fraud scheme.

• Staff of DEH and any legitimate agency will always have proper photo identification. Ask to see proper ID if you have any doubts.

• Never give out personal or business identification over the phone unless you are certain of the identity of the person you are speaking to.

• If you get a phone call that seems suspicious, hang up the phone and call local law enforcement.