How A Fake Health Inspector Conned Two Fast Food Restaurants

There are certain things a restaurant crew should not expect during a health inspection. St. Mary's County Health Department in Maryland, for instance, warns that a real health inspector should not arrange a visit over the phone using a code. That person should, however, have official identification and documentation to show who they are and what their jurisdiction is, and the restaurant should ask for that proof. And "under no circumstances" should an inspector request or take money as part of the inspection. So if someone claiming to be a health official seems to be more interested in cleaning out the safe than making sure the restaurant is clean, there's a good chance that this is a scammer.

Two fast food restaurants in the Las Vegas area, reports Newsweek, found themselves duped by a con man with a clipboard posing as a health inspector. Exactly how he managed to gain access is unclear based on the info provided. But a video posted by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police shows the person dressed in a button-down shirt and dark pants with an employer who is giving the "inspector" a tour of the back area. At some point during these visits, he allegedly asked for the employees to open the restaurant's safe, allowing him to grab the cash inside and flee. The robberies occurred on July 3, and the police released a statement about the thefts on August 2.

Have other crimes like this happened?

We can't say whether the workers at these restaurants asked to see ID or noticed any weird behavior from the person pretending to be a government official. However, it would seem that other restaurants have been targeted by imposter health inspectors attempting to swindle them.

In 2018, a bogus health inspector targeted several restaurants in the area of Tacoma, Washington demanding cash to pay for a "violation." If the violation fee was not paid, the owners of the restaurant would be unable to open, the fake inspector claimed. Fortunately, as the Seattle Times reports, the owners alerted the real authorities and didn't send the con man any sort of cash.

In January 2022, a 27-year-old man in St. Louis posed as a health inspector. They weren't looking to ask for cash but to dupe the employees into taking COVID-19 nasal tests. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch tells us that he was allegedly attempting to steal personal information from unsuspecting persons. He also claimed his employer, Community Wellness America, was paying him $20 for every test he brought in. People have also alleged that the company attempted to trick restaurants. 

Unfortunately, phony health inspectors aren't the only form of fraud restaurants face. Sometimes it involves takeout and delivery scams or cases of food fraud.