Fake health inspectors are scamming their way through Toronto restaurants

Fake health inspectors are scamming their way through Toronto restaurants

Toronto Public Health has issued a warning to restaurateurs in the city concerning an odd group of con artists who pose as restaurant inspectors. Apparently, they attempt to schedule on-site inspections with restaurants over the phone, obtaining detailed business and personal information in the process. In a press release, Toronto Public Health stated the obvious—namely that health inspectors don’t tip off restaurants before heading in to vet the place.

Officials didn’t say what was motivating the scam or what type of information the fraudsters were trying to obtain. The CBC reports that it’s all part of a continent-wide scam, with theories suggesting it might be a type of Craigslist-related identity fraud. One CBC commenter suggested the following:

This is not really a scam. The restauranteurs aren’t the target. The end result is to be able to set up accounts on CraigList for purposes of posting in many of the service areas on the site. Last year Craiglist instituted a phone verification system that requires Craiglist calling a real world phone number, giving a 5 digit code at which point that number is entered onto the site.

Whatever the scammers are doing, they’re not doing a particularly good job. Jim Chan from Toronto Public Health tells us that he’s already received about 80 calls about the fraudsters. On the bright side, though, the scheme is probably spurring kitchen clean-ups the continent over.

• Phone scam schedules fake restaurant inspections [CBC]
• Fraudsters posing as health inspectors at restaurants [Globe and Mail]