Health department warns restaurants about ‘health inspector’ scam

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 17, 2011

A scam targeting restaurants has been reported in Ohio, the Ironton City Health Department warns.

The health department was notified Friday by the Ohio Department of Health that scammers are calling restaurants and requesting personal information of their employees.

There also have been incidents where individuals posing as state or local health district inspectors have actually entered food operations to gain information.

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The scam involves a caller posing as a health inspector requesting to schedule an inspection and gathering information about the business, then giving restaurant employees a unique numerical code and instructing them to confirm that number during a subsequent, usually automated, call.

Investigators believe the information and confirmation call are used to set up fake identities via websites in order to fraudulently sell goods and services on websites such as Craigslist, according to a warning letter sent out by the Illinois Department of Public Health last August after the scam surfaced there.

A similar situation happened in Montgomery County (Dayton) to a local restaurant, according to a report by the Dayton Daily News.

Laura Brown, R.N., health commissioner of the Ironton City Health Department said that in no way does the health department call ahead for an appointment time for inspections.

Food service inspections are not scheduled. Owners of restaurants should inform their employees not to give any information about their facility to anyone who they cannot absolutely identify.

“Our staff carries picture IDs, but if anyone has concerns, they should call our office for verification,” Brown said.

The Ironton City Health Department can be reached at (740) 532-2172.