Public health officials are warning that a scammer is targeting Asian restaurants by posing as a health inspector to get credit card information.
The scammer targeted a restaurant in Jefferson County in the past month but similar scams are taking place in the Atlanta area and have been tried in years past, officials said. A person called up the restaurant and demanded that the owner pre-pay for an inspection, said Tim Mosley, the environmental health county manager for the Richmond County Health Department. The scammer then charged the owner’s credit card $600.
Health inspections are always unannounced, and the health department does not charge for them, Mosley said. Restaurants pay an annual fee, but those are sent by invoice, he said.
The scammers might be targeting Asian restaurants because there is sometimes a language barrier for those owners, who might be intimidated by someone posing as a public health official, Mosley said.
People have used similar schemes against those restaurants in the past, he said. The East Central Health District in Augusta has sent out an alert to all of its counties and has printed that alert in Korean, Vietnamese and a Chinese dialect to share with those communities, said spokesman Emmitt Larry Walker.
Owners should reportany similar calls to law enforcement immediately, Mosley said. Owners with questions can also call the environmental health office at (706) 667-4234.
Reach Tom Corwin at (706) 823-3213