GLENDALE — Los Angeles County Public Health officials were continuing to investigate the motives of a fake inspector who called several restaurants, including one in Glendale, urging them to dial certain numbers.
The man, who investigators have yet to identify, called one undisclosed Rainbow Sushi & Teriyaki on South Brand Boulevard in Glendale and another three in the Antelope Valley, asked them to call a phone number and then dial a numeric code, Angelo Bellomo, director of the county’s Environmental Health Department, said.
“This is a crime and we take these actions seriously,” he said.
The reason for calling the phone number and dialing the code was not immediately known, but Bellomo said it may suggest the man was trying to determine whether he could control the restaurateurs and then get them to comply with other demands.
The man called Kenny Yu’s sushi restaurant about 3:26 p.m. on Feb. 10 to advise him that two inspectors from the Orange County Health Department would be dropping by the next day.
But Yu said he was advised to call an automatic phone number, which would then give him a numeric code. Yu called the number and scribbled down the code.
The impersonator called Yu again and asked him for the code, which he said would tell him the name of the inspector that would visit the restaurant.
That’s when Yu said he became suspicious and called the Orange County Health Department, which he said denied sending any inspectors. Department officials advised him to call his local health department.
A local county inspector told Yu that they may have been trying to obtain his cell phone number to use for committing fraud, he said.
“I’ve got no idea what they are going to do,” he said.
Yu described the fake health inspector as intelligent and knowledgeable about health inspection procedures, and that the man knew many details about the restaurant, he said.
Similar calls have been made to restaurants in Orange County, Bellomo added.
Officials said most fake health inspectors try to scam owners by demanding money.
Public health officials have warned business owners to check identifications, which should include county-issued photo cards. Inspectors should also present businesses cards.
Health inspectors also never prearrange a meeting and always go to a business unannounced, Bellomo said.
Restaurants owners who get a call from a man claiming to be a health inspector should call police, local health department officials and get the name and contact number of the person calling. Owners should also not give out their personal information.
Public health officials urged restaurant owners to notify the county of any suspicious activity or fraud by calling the Bureau of District Surveillance and Enforcement at (626) 430-5200.