Phone Scheme Targets Restaurant Owners in Twin Cities

March 30, 2018 06:19 PM

Someone is targeting Twin Cities restaurants with a new spin on an old phone scheme, according to the Hennepin County Public Health Department.

Officials with the county confirmed two Eden Prairie restaurants filed complaints, after receiving calls that were meant to gain unauthorized access to financial accounts.


Officials sent an alert to hundreds of restaurant owners this week, after complaints alleged that the caller posed as someone from the County Health Department. The alert said the caller told restaurants there are 'illness complaints' against them, and that the county needs to do a special inspection. But before the inspection, the alert advises that the caller 'demands a small credit card payment to cover the cost.'

"As soon as we found out about it, we wanted to inform all the restaurants we know," Duane Hudson, program manager of environmental health at Hennepin County said. "In no circumstance do we collect monies from our licensed vendors for the type of request that they were asking for."

Hudson said the alleged caller is taking advantage of the "relationship between the public health department and the restaurant." He said in complaint cases, inspectors will call the restaurant, but will never demand payment.

How to Report Scams (Source: Hennepin County Public Health Department)

  • If any such call is received, or if one has fallen victim to this scam, please notify the state Attorney General's office at 651-296-3353 and your city police department. 

Tit Tat Kwan, owner of the Red Moon Chinese Cafe in Eden Prairie, said his establishment got this call on Tuesday.

"I said, any of that kind of phone call, forget it," Kwan said. "That's phony. They think maybe I'm easy to get to, that's why they target me."

Kwan said he didn't fall for the ploy, but is worried other businesses will.

"Don't let those people get that so easily," Kwan said. "The health inspector is here to take care of us, not to try to frighten us."

To see the official alert from the county, click here.


Kirsten Swanson

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