Scammers Target Restaurants
A new telephone scam is targeting restaurant operators in many states, including Michigan. The restaurant operator is contacted by telephone by a person who claims to be an inspector. This person indicates that they will receive a confirmation number and will be asked to enter that number when they are contacted by telephone.In this scheme, what scammers are trying to do is 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.
Here’s how it works: Scammers contact a restaurant 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 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 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’s (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. The scammer then receives a 5-digit verification code. At this point the scammers contact restaurants pretending to be health inspectors. The goal of the scam is not –generally speaking —to defraud restaurants. What they want is for the restaurant to read back the verification code when the automated phone call from Craigslist goes out (to verify the account). If they’re successful in doing that, they’ve now got a Craigslist account which isn’t tied to their number, and they’re free to scam other people.Please remember, in most instances, the Tuscola County Health Department does not contact persons by phone to schedule or announce inspections. If you are contacted by phone and the person claims to be from this department, verify their name and phone number and call them back. If you have questions, call this department at 989-673-8114, extension 4.