Have you received this notice in the mail recently? If you have, don’t respond – the Department of Health released a statement warning owners and managers about a recent scam involving fraudulent violations. An unknown organization is mailing out Notices for vague pest violations, claiming fines must be paid immediately to avoid consequences.
Here’s just a few of the red flags from the fake copy:
- Inability to contest: The copy lists an immediate payment request and late charge table. As a reminder, DOH violations are usually heard by the Environmental Control Board or Health Tribunal, and can be contested at a hearing.
- A DOH violation signed by the (wrong) DOB Commissioner: Despite the fact that this false violation was issued by the DOH, they have a signature line featuring the old DOB commissioner (not current Commissioner Rick Chandler) – this is a confusing mix-up meant to make the document look more official. They also state that failure to pay would result in DOB fines, which isn’t true; ECB-related fines are always made payable to the Department of Finance, regardless of the issuing agency. (Note that this is different from civil penalties, which are usually payable to the agency or associated division.)
- Method of Payment: The “Pay To” is “Vermin Control Board of New York payment processing center,” a non-existent entity.
- “Vermin Control of New York” – There is no city agency, department, or division with this name. A quick Google search brings up commercial pest control companies, and no official city pages.
- General misspellings and errors: “lein”, incorrect use of properties, etc.
We called the number on the document listed for “New York Health and Hygiene,” and were met with busy signals several times.
The DOH is asking any owner, manager, or resident to contact 311 if they’ve received this fake Notice. While we’re still not sure who’s responsible for this scam, it’s clear that this is not an official NYC violation and should not be paid under any circumstances.