County Health Department Warn of Scam against Restaurants

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

The Putnam County Department of Health today (July 22)  alerted area restaurants to a scam, perhaps part of a national fraud scheme, in which a caller claiming to be a Health Department employee attempts to schedule a bogus “inspection.” The Cold Spring Police Department passed along the information to Philipstown.info for help in getting the word out locally. As part of the operation, a fake inspector mentions a “code” number, although the Health Department says that’s a tip-off of something improper.
       Two restaurants in Carmel already had been targeted by the con artists, warned Rick Carano of the Health Department. He said that one restaurant owner scheduled a visit by the purported inspector and then sought Health Department corroboration, only to learn of the fraudulent nature of the call. The phony inspector “did not show up at the time set for the appointment,” Carano added. He said that the second restaurant declined to schedule an appointment and contacted the Health Department. Carano said that the methods used in the incidents in Putnam County match those of a nation-wide scam. “The possible intent may be extortion or entrance to canvass for robbery,” he said.
       A Health Department flyer (see end of article) distributed with Carano’s e-mail memo advised restaurants that a scammer “may ask you to make a telephone call to get a `code’ number for the inspection or threaten you with a fine if you do not cooperate. The caller is not with the Putnam County Health Department! This may be part of a possible national scam.” Department personnel also cautioned that it “does not call to schedule inspections with restaurants or delis. In rare instances we may call an operator if the business is closed during normal business hours. We welcome your calls to verify if you are being called by our department.”
       For protection, the department asked restaurants to remember several points:

  • “No new Health Department procedure has been implemented for inspections. A caller who asks you to participate in a `code’ process is part of a fraud scheme.” 
  • “Health Department staff and any legitimate agency will have photo identification. Ask to see an ID if you have doubts about the authenticity of the inspector visiting your business.” 
  • “Never give out personal or business information unless you are certain of the identity of the person you are speaking to.” 

The department asked restaurant proprietors to call with any questions. The number is: (845) 808-1390, extension 43216.
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Important Notification from the Putnam County Health Department

 Please Read & Notify Owner & Staff!!!

 Possible Criminal Scam Alert

There have been two restaurants in Putnam County which received telephone calls from someone claiming to be with the “Health Department” and wanting to schedule an inspection.

 The caller may ask you to make a telephone call to get a “code number” for the inspection or threatens you with a fine if you do not cooperate. The caller is not with the Putnam County Health Department!!!

 This may be part of a possible national scam.

 The Putnam County Department of Health does not call to schedule inspections with Restaurants or Deli’s. In rare instances we may call an operator if the business is closed during normal business hours. We welcome your calls to verify if you are being called by our department.

 To protect your business from frauds, imposters and scams, remember:

  •  No new Health Department procedure has been implemented for inspections. A caller who asks you to participate in a “code” process is part of a fraud scheme.
  •  Health Department staff and any legitimate agency will have photo identification. Ask to see an ID if you have doubts about the authenticity of the inspector visiting your business.
  •  Never give out personal or business information unless you are certain of the identity of the person you are speaking to.

 Please telephone (845) 808-1390 ext. 43216 with any questions.

 


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