Scam or fraudulent incidents can catch many consumers by surprise, and businesses are not immune.That's why the Kern County Fire Department has teamed up with the Better Business Bureau and a California fire marshal investigator to hold a seminar on fire protection fraud this week.

Anthony Romero, an engineer and paramedic with the Kern County Fire Department, said a session giving tips on how to spot phony inspectors and fraudulent scammers will be held 11 a.m., Wednesday, Aug. 15, at the University of La Verne in Bakersfield.

"Frauds and scams have been plaguing our state, and it is trickling into our county, and my job is to give power to the people and to educate them so they do not get fraud or scammed," Romero said. "This will be a very informative seminar, and will give business owners the knowledge and tools to understand how they can identify or check on a contractor. We will be teaching them what to look for in a contractor and how to check their certifications."

Romero said scammers will pose as inspectors or other officials to gain personal information or falsely charge them for services or equipment they may not need.

One example is a scammer telling a business owner that he or she needs to swap out their fire extinguisher for new one.

"The fire department has the enforcement authority to regulate Fire Code requirements, which fire protection and detection systems should be in a facility, and these service companies have no authority at all," said county Fire Capt. Derek Tisinger. "You as a business owner have a right to turn them away and seek other avenues or legitimate service companies."

In other related news, the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Brown Armstrong of Bakersfield have also joined together to hold a business seminar on fraud.

Jay Tamsi, CEO/President of the KCHCC, said the free session will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 22 at Brown Armstrong on Truxtun Avenue. Lunch will be provided. This will be another great event for business owners to attend and help them become more familiar with fraudulent situations that can occur if not properly informed.

"Occupational fraud is a significant threat to business," Tamsi said.

For more information, please email info@bacpas.com or call 661-324-4971.

Success products

It's pretty exciting to hear how our local kids who are away at college continue to succeed in many ways. Danae Jarrett, a local product who also happened to intern at Bakersfield Life Magazine, is finishing up an internship at the hip entertainment TV network, BET, and has been able to participate in the 106 and Park show. "I have learned so much about what goes on behind the scenes as well as on air in the entertainment TV industry," said Danae.

I have been keeping track of Danae, and a couple of months ago the UC Davis student was among a dozen students across the U.S. accepted into a media journalism seminar through an organization called Project Interchange. As part of the internship, she traveled to Israel, where she learned about Israeli society, connected with Israeli counterparts and gained awareness about Israel's extensive contributions in journalism and media.

"I became exposed to Israel's diverse population, democratic system of government and complex strategic and societal dilemmas through discussions with leading Israeli figures," she said. "Being able to converse with top government and military officials, innovative business and world-renowned academics was very enlightening. Hearing different opinions and facts gave me a new, refreshing perspective on Israel. Furthermore, I was able to participate in sessions on education, immigrant absorption, social welfare programs, economic development, rule of law, human rights and the peace process. Overall, my trip was well balanced with educational and historical experiences."

Danae returns to UC Davis in the fall, where she will earn a degree in communications with a double minor in women and gender studies.

I expect many more great things to continue to come from Danae.

These are the opinions of Olivia Garcia, not necessarily those of The Bakersfield Cali fornian. Reach her at ogarcia@bakersfield.com.

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