Foodservice Equipment Reports

Pacific Northwest Hit By Inspection Scams

Health inspections can be unplanned and ill-timed, but some restaurants in Washington, northern California and Canada are finding them fraudulent as well.

Operators there have been targets of a phone-call scam allegedly meant to set up fraudulent accounts with Craigslist. According to a press release from the Washington State Attorney General’s office, an initial phone call informs the restaurant that it will receive an automated call providing a numeric confirmation code. A second caller, claiming to be a health inspector, requests the code and seeks to set up an in-person restaurant inspection. The caller threatens fines if the restaurant doesn't cooperate. Local authorities aren’t aware of any restaurants responding to the scam.

Alerts have been issued in Stanislaus County, Calif., and across the border in British Columbia. Officials from the Washington State Department of Health said they’ve heard from local health authorities that businesses in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties have recently received calls. The department has issued an alert to its Food Safety Program business partners.

Public health inspectors carry official photo identification and do not announce their visits. Victims who provided personal information to a telephone scammer should place a fraud alert or security freeze on their credit files. Instructions are on the Attorney General’s Web site at www.atg.wa.gov/freeze.aspx

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