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Police warn of new scams

November 08, 2003

Jackson Bell

A pair of cons reported in Beverly Hills and Santa Monica has Burbank

police warning residents to be aware of fraudulent fire extinguisher

inspectors.

The first reported incident of the "fire extinguisher scam"

occurred Oct. 7 in Santa Monica when a merchant said a suspect posing

as a repairman entered the store, claimed that the fire extinguishers

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needed routine maintenance, collected the payment in advance and left

without performing the service, Burbank Police Sgt. William Berry

said.

A similar incident was reported in late October in Beverly Hills

when a restaurant employee paid a con artist $600 for fire

extinguisher services before he left without doing the job.

Berry said police are unsure if the same man perpetrated the

crimes, and no one has been arrested.

"A lot of times, I think this happens with greater frequency than

reported," Berry said. "Some people don't report it because they're

embarrassed."

The best way to prevent the scam is to ask for credentials and pay

after the service is completed.

"In order to be legal, [a repairman] needs to have proper

licensing," Berry said. "So it's always a good idea to check and make

sure they have proper registration from the state department of

regulations."

About 10 scams a year are reported to Burbank Police, he added.

Anyone who has been the victim of a scam is encouraged to call the

police at 238-3000.

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