Twin Cities restaurants targeted in 'health inspector' phone scheme

Some restaurant owners have been targeted in a phone scheme, according to the Hennepin County Public Health Department. 

The Red Moon Chinese Café has been serving Chinese cuisine in Eden Prairie for more than 20 years. The owner has also spent time fending off criminals. 

“Ignore them, don’t let them fool you,” said Tin Kwan, the owner of Red Moon Chinese Café. 

Kwan told Fox 9 he has been the target of phone schemes. The most recent incident involved a call he received from someone claiming to be with the Hennepin County Public Health Department. 

“Anytime you get that kind of call from the health inspector for any reason, if something is wrong I have to be concerned,” Kwan said. 

The caller told Kwan there were illness complaints against his restaurant and then proceeded to ask for a $3 credit card payment to cover the cost of a special inspection. 

Kwan didn’t buy it, and said that he never gives credit card information out over the phone. However, at least one restaurant owner did buy the story. 

“We only take credit card information over the phone if it’s to pay an invoice that the restaurant has already received,” said Amanda Buell, of the Health Department. 

Buell said at least two complaints have come from restaurants in Eden Prairie. The ploy oftentimes works, because people give in to fear, she said. 

“It’s pretty serious,” she said. “It’s unfortunate because it effects your finances. If someone goes charging credit cards around, there’s a trust factor with the Health Department.”

Kwan has been spreading the word about the scheme and hopes that no one else gets burned in their own kitchen. 

If restaurant owners receive suspicious calls, they are encouraged to notify police and the Health Department.