Right before this holiday season, the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued a warning to all of its licensees regarding the alleged impersonation of ABC agents and representatives throughout the state of California. The impersonation was conducted over the telephone or via email correspondence and indicated that an investigation had been conducted and concluded regarding the licensee. And, as a result, ABC found the licensee to have violated the prohibition against the sale of alcohol to minors. The impersonator then went on to solicit a payment of a “fine” by way of Electronic Funds Transfer to satisfy the discipline.
ABC ‘s warning to licensees explained that ABC does not operate in the method that the impersonator did. Specifically, it would not contact licensees directly via telephone regarding a concluded investigation and assert that a violation had occurred and needed to be addressed by paying a fine. While ABC does have the authority to assess administrative penalties for violations of the state’s alcoholic beverage laws and conditions placed on licenses, if the ABC has evidence of a violation, it will either file a citation or an administrative complaint, called an accusation, in writing, and a copy will be delivered to the licensee. In both circumstances, the licensee has a right to oppose the findings by way of an administrative hearing.
An Accusation, if proven, will lead to the suspension or revocation of the license, unless the department accepts an offer in compromise (usually involving payment of a fine) in lieu of the suspension.
If you are contacted by telephone by anyone claiming to be an ABC enforcement agent, do not fall prey to this scam. Furthermore, ABC is asking licensee to report any similar such contact to it to assist in uncovering the identity of the impersonators. Anyone who receives this type of request is asked to obtain the person’s name, contact information or a physical description and then pass the information on to ABC. You may contact ABC by visiting https://www.abc.ca.gov/distmap.html.