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News, Fire Department, Santa Monica

Fire Department Warns Businesses About 'Fake' Inspector Scam

Posted Oct. 19, 2012, 4:21 am

Brenton Garen / Editor-in-Chief

The Santa Monica Fire Department is warning business owners of a Southern California scam where "fake" fire inspectors are turning up announced demanding money up front or sending unwarranted bills at a later date.

Typically how the scam works is that a person posing as a “fire Inspector” offers to conduct an inspection of the business while wearing an official looking uniform, and claim they are inspecting on behalf of the fire department.

Typically, they come uninvited to businesses and ask an unsuspecting employee to sign a form authorizing the “inspection.”

If they do the inspection, they have the employee sign their form and then the business owner receives a bill at a later date or worse yet, the person may demand money up front. This scam is happening all over the Southern California area.

Recently, the Los Angeles Fire Department wrote an article to their business community warning of similar activity in their city.

SMFD Fire Marshal Nancy Johnson said the only fire inspections businesses should be receiving are those conducted by the Santa Monica Fire Department.

"Our members are properly identified as Santa Monica Fire Department personnel and they will contact the owner or manager of the business and announce their reason for being at your business," Johnson said. "They will also explain what they will be inspecting and will discuss their findings when their inspection is complete.

"In addition, our members carry identification that clearly states their name and position within the Santa Monica Fire Department."

Therefore, Johnson said if a company comes in uninvited telling you they are at your business to conduct a fire inspection, or if you are in any way suspicious of a person who comes in to conduct a fire inspection, please call 911 for the Santa Monica Police Department and then call the Fire Prevention Division at, 310.458.8915 to report the incident.

If possible, please try and get the name and phone number of the company of the person posing as a fire inspector.

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