Food Facility Inspection Fraud Alert
Officials with the Humboldt County Department of Health and Human Services, Environmental Health Division have learned of an apparent scheme targeting food facilities in Humboldt County, and across the state of California. A number of restaurants have recently received telephone calls from a person claiming to be a health inspector introducing a new procedure for arranging a health inspection,” said Steve Gustafson, Senior Environmental Health Specialist with Public Health. The phony health inspector asks the business owner to follow a procedure to get a special confirmation number to confirm the upcoming inspection. Later the business owner receives a second call asking for the confirmation number, he said. No inspection is conducted and no inspector visits the facility. This scheme is part of a larger fraud involving setting up accounts with a national on-line auction service.The purpose of the confirmation number is to get the small business owner to provide false verification to the online auction service.The fraud artist does this to establish a bogus on-line account to be used in other fraud schemes. To protect yourself from this fraudulent practice, Environmental Health recommends: Never give out personal or business identification information over the phone unless you are certain of the identity of the person you are speaking to. Report fraudulent activity to the local law enforcement agency where the call was received. The Division of Environmental Health conducts primarily routine inspections during normal business hours. The inspector does not accept payments, charge money, receive fees for services during an inspection, or sell or endorse specific products. The inspector will introduce themselves to the owner or person in charge, have a proper county-issued photo identification card, a county-issued business card, and will direct all payments to be made at the Environmental Health office located at 100 H Street, Suite 100 Eureka, CA 95501. Ask to see proper ID if you have any doubts about the authenticity of an inspector visiting your business. Ask for their supervisor's name and phone number and call to verify. No new inspection procedure has been developed. Any caller identifying him/herself as a health inspector asking you to participate in a confirmation process is part of a fraud scheme. If you have questions regarding inspections, please contact our Environmental Health Division office at (707) 445-6215, ortoll free at 1-800-963-9241.