Scams Targeting Our Industry
Inspector Impersonation Fraud
The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) is warning regulated business to not pay any licensing fees directly to individuals who come to their place of business claiming to be KDA inspectors.
“KDA does not collect any money in the field during food safety and lodging inspections,” said KDA Food Safety Policy Director Erik Wisner. “All fees collected from these regulated businesses are submitted by mail or fax directly to the Topeka office.”
KDA has received a report of an individual in Southeast Kansas who impersonated a KDA employee and accepted a check in person from a business to renew its license. Several other businesses in the area also reported that an individual will come in and ask for cash to perform a food safety inspection.
Any business that experiences an individual claiming to be a KDA inspector attempting to collect fees should not pay the individual and instead report the incident immediately to their local authorities as well as the KDA at 785.296.5600. Recent incidents of this type should also be reported to the authorities and the KDA.
The KDA promotes public safety by regulating the production and sale of food products in Kansas. Regulated entities include grocery stores, convenience stores, restaurants, schools, senior meal sites, mobile food units, lodging facilities, food wholesalers and warehouses, food processors and food manufacturers.
Credit Card Fraud
KRHA has received numerous reports from members regarding a wide-spread credit card fraud tactic. The scam has several variations, but basically involves the following: A restaurant is contacted via email or telephone, often multiple times. A large takeout or catering order is then placed - frequently the number is 300 people - or reservations for around 20 people are made on several dates. Some variations offered by the scammer include planning a party for a sick or dying relative, or planning a special event such as a business anniversary celebration. Pre-payment is made via stolen credit card, then the order or reservation is cancelled just prior to the event. The scammer then demands a refund by company check or cash, claiming the credit card originally used for payment has been cancelled. Often the card numbers used are acquired electronically, so transactions can occur without the issuer or cardholder knowing the card is compromised. An additional variation is that the scammer uses a “TTY” operator to place the call. TTY is a system using special equipment and an intermediary operator to place telephone calls for deaf and speech-disabled people. This method ensures confidentiality for the caller and hides the caller’s location, which is often overseas. Using TTY, the scammer may attempt to get a cell phone for the restaurant and then communicate via text. When receiving orders like this, businesses can protect themselves by contacting the fraud department for that particular credit card. The issuer can contact the cardholder and confirm the order is bona fide, or freeze the card and prevent losses. If the scammer offers another card, check that one too. Whenever making credit card refunds, do so using your credit card system and don’t pay out cash. Recently cancelled cards can be refunded, and using the system provides another layer of protection to the merchant.
Always and immediately report suspected credit card fraud to your card processor or the card issuer.
Hotel Credit Card Scam
Please be aware that hotels have been experiencing a known credit card scam in which an individual calls the hotel from an outside line and requests guest information from In-Room Dining. They claim to be from the front desk and ask for the names and rooms numbers of recent orders. Once they have this information they call back to the hotel's main line and ask to be connected to those room numbers. When they speak with the guests they again claim to be an employee at the hotel and claim they need their credit card number and address.
We continue to learn of complaints from members who have received "official looking" announcements and -- in some cases -- threatening notices, messages, or telephone calls from various companies requiring that employers purchase OSHA documents from them in order to remain in compliance with OSHA rules and regulations. We have also learned of a few cases in which individuals, falsely identifying themselves as Department of Labor or OSHA employees, contact employers threatening fines if they do not purchase specific materials.
It's important that all members not become victim of fraudulent solicitation practices or incur unnecessary costs where these resources are concerned.
OSHA's publications and posters are available free to anyone who asks simply by visiting the publications page on the agency's Web site at http://www.osha.gov/pls/publications/pubindex.list. The publications, posters, fact sheets, etc., can be ordered through the publications office or, in most cases, downloaded directly from the Web site.
As a reminder, employers are required to continually display a poster prepared by the Department of Labor that informs employees of protections afforded under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The poster must be displayed in a conspicuous place where employees, as well as applicants for employment, can view it. Private employers may use the poster available from OSHA's Web site, or a suitable reproduction or facsimile.
If you feel you've received a fraudulent solicitation, contact OSHA at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742).
The Kansas Restaurant & Hospitality Association been made aware of another scam targeting restaurants and hotels in Florida. In this scheme scammers are trying to trick restaurants into helping them establish an identity for an online service like Craigslist, which will allow the scammers to bypass Craigslist verification controls put in place to prevent spam and online scams.
Scammers contact a restaurant or hotel and claim to be health inspectors. They then attempt to set up a time for the inspection. Before ending the call, the caller gives the restaurant/hotel employee a 5-digit confirmation code, which they say must be given to the health inspector. Another call is then received sometime later that day asking the restaurant/hotel owner to relay the confirmation number. If they do that, though they themselves have not provided any sensitive financial information, they’ve helped the scammers get past Craigslist (or other online services’) verification controls.
To set up a Craigslist account, users have to provide a phone number. So scammers, not wanting to tie their phone number to an account used for fraudulent purposes, will enter the telephone number of a legitimate business – usually that of a restaurant or hotel. Again, the goal for the scammers is for the restaurant owner to read back to verification code so that they can use a Craigslist account that isn’t tied to their company for fraudulent purposes.
Do not entertain conversations with these solicitors. They do not represent the governing body of Kansas' hotels and restaurants, and have nothing to do with inspections. If you have more information on this scam, please notify us at 800-369-6787 immediately.