Fake fire inspectors targeting Garden Grove businesses

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The Garden Grove Fire Department wants to put a stop to a scam targeting local businesses. They say people are posing as fire inspectors and even sending bills, demanding money. (KABC)

Peter Yeo was working behind the counter at the Popcorn Home Shopping store in Garden Grove when a man who he thought was with the fire department approached and asked him to sign a form.

"I think he just came from fire department, that's why I just signed it ... no doubt, no doubt," recalled Yeo.

After getting Yeo's signature, the fake fire inspector left without performing an inspection.

Soon after, Yeo says he started receiving bills for "Fire Protection Service," charging more than $200. He says that was two years ago, but he still receives bills. He hasn't paid, but he says the same person recently returned.

The scam is on the radar of the Garden Grove Fire Department. At least three new businesses were recently approached by fraudulent fire inspectors.

"There's billing that's taking place out there and ... it's representing the fire department for work that may not need to be done or for something that the fire department is going to do free," said Garden Grove Fire Chief Tom Schultz at a news conference.

Schultz says at least one business was billed $1,000 for services.

The department starting a new awareness campaign aimed at businesses.

Here are some tips:

A real fire inspector will always be in uniform, have a Garden Grove FD badge and an identification card.

If you're not sure if someone visiting your business is legitimate, you can always call the fire department to verify.

If a business owes something, the fee will be listed on an official city document with the city or fire department seal. You will never be asked to pay on the spot.

Also, the fake inspectors' bills offer credit card payments. However, the fire department does not accept credit cards.

"We do not take Master Card, or Visa or PayPal," Schultz said. "You would come in in person to pay that fee or mail a check to a city address."

The Garden Grove Fire Department has set up a hotline for businesses: If you have been a victim of the scam or want more information, call (714) 741-5629.
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scamfraudGarden Grove
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