Authorities warned East County merchants on Monday to beware of a fire-inspection scam that has been cropping up in the area.
The perpetrators of the scheme have been showing up, unsolicited, at businesses in El Cajon, La Mesa, and Lemon Grove and claiming they were there on behalf of a public-safety agency to conduct an official fire inspection, according to Heartland Fire & Rescue.
If allowed access to a building, Heartland said, the crooks conduct a "visual inspection" of the premises and later send a bill that can run into hundreds of dollars.
Legitimate inspections in those cities are conducted by either Heartland personnel or city workers who carry department identification cards and wear fire department uniforms and badges, or apparel with a municipal insignia. Many of the bogus contractors outfit themselves in similar apparel.
During an official inspection, any violations or corrections are addressed in writing. If there is a fee for an inspection made by the city or the fire department, an invoice will come directly from the city by mail.
Anyone wishing to verify the status of inspectors can call Heartland at (619) 667-1355 to verify employment.
—City News Service