APPREHEND: Smith. Photo: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - The City of Cape Town’s health department on Monday warned the public of con artists posing as health officials scamming businesses in and around Cape Town.

In a statement, the City said the criminals pose as health officials employed by the City and fleece unsuspecting business owners. The statement added that it was aware of at least six cases of bogus health inspectors conning businesses into paying for inspections and certificates that are usually issued free of charge.

“The con artists are requesting payment for the issuing of Certificates of Acceptability (COA) for food premises. City Health is aware of at least six cases in Mfuleni, Kleinvlei, Nyanga, Strand and Lakeside between February and May this year where such scams have been carried out,” said the City’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith.

Smith said the public should be aware there was no charge associated with the processing or issuing of a COA indicating that food premises are compliant with health legislation.

He added that city officials were not permitted from accepting payment directly from clients. Any applications that do require payment should only occur at a City cash office or via electronic funds transfer into the City’s bank account, details of which are available on the City’s website.

“It is unfortunate, but not unsurprising, that criminals are preying on businesses in this manner. This is more than just a money-making scheme. There are potential health risks because, if a certificate of acceptability is issued to a food premises that isn’t compliant with health legislation, it could potentially mean that food safety and hygiene practices are not in place and could result in unsafe food being consumed by customers.

“We encourage anyone who has been conned in this manner to please report it to the police and provide as much information as possible so that those responsible can be brought to book,’ said Smith.

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African News Agency (ANA)