East County businesses warned of fire inspection scam

SAN DIEGO - Authorities warned East County business owners Thursday to beware of a scam involving bogus fire inspections.

People identifying themselves as "contractors" have been showing up at workplaces in El Cajon, La Mesa and Lemon Grove recently and claiming to have been sent by a fire department for a safety-compliance check, according to Heartland Fire & Rescue.

The imposters then perform "visual inspections" and leave, agency spokeswoman Monica Zech said. The victims, often foreign-born merchants who speak English as a second language, later receive bills demanding sums of up to several hundred dollars.

Actual fire inspections in areas served by Heartland are conducted either by the agency's uniformed personnel or by city employees in apparel with municipal insignias.

"Heartland Fire & Rescue will not send a contractor to your place of business," Zech said. "If there is a fee for the inspection, an invoice will come directly from the city finance department."

Anyone wishing to verify the identity of someone claiming to be a fire inspector in any of the three cities can call (619) 667-1355.

Print this article Back to Top