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August 29, 2011

Oswego County Health Department Warns of Restaurant Inspection Scam

OSWEGO - The Oswego County Health Department received notification last week that a fraudulent restaurant inspection was attempted at a local restaurant.

A caller, identified as "the new health inspector for the Oswego County Health Department," spoke with the restaurant owner to schedule an inspection. Knowing the county health inspector, the owner denied the request and notified the county health department of the incident.

This account is similar to other scams reported to the New York State Association of County Health Officials. Restaurants in six states have reportedly received telephone calls asking to schedule an inspection. The intent of these inspection scams is to gain access into the restaurant facility, to obtain payment for "unacceptable restaurant practices," and to gain identifying information for illegal use.

The Oswego County Health Department is informing restaurant owners, operators and employees to be aware of these scams to help avoid additional restaurants being victimized.

"We have strict standards that we follow when doing all restaurant inspections," said Oswego County Public Health Director Dr. Dennis Norfleet. "One of the things we don't do is announce our arrival. Our health inspectors do not contact restaurants in advance of routine inspections."

Other health inspection standards held by the Oswego County Health Department include:

  • Every health department restaurant inspector always carries an "Oswego County Health Department" photo identification badge with them to inspections.
  • Every health department restaurant inspector leaves a signed "Restaurant Inspection Report" with the restaurant operator.
  • The Oswego County Health Department does not issue fines or collect money on site as a result of inspection findings.

Dr. Norfleet added, "Even new health inspectors, or those covering another inspector's area, will enter the restaurant in person, introduce themselves and show a valid Oswego County Health Department identification. Restaurant operators should ask to see identification of any restaurant inspector and, if it is not provided, refuse access to the restaurant. Furthermore, I would advise that restaurant owners and operators report any suspicious or fraudulent calls to local law enforcement officials immediately."

For more information about restaurant inspection standards contact the Oswego County Division of Environmental Health at 315-349-3557.


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