Brandon Hernández, who writes about the local dining scene for the San Diego Suburban newspapers, reported last week he is a victim of identity theft. Whoever the culprit is has also been impersonating him in local restaurants, he said.
At least two restaurants have been victimized by the man, who claims to be working on a review, asks to come in, dine, and interview the chefs.
Hernández said he first learned that his personal accounts had been compromised in November when he found more than $1,000 missing from his bank account. While taking steps to secure his finances by closing out accounts and notifying crediting agencies, the perpetrator, apparently aware of his actions, locked him out of and closed out his e-mail account, he said.
This situation has been reported to police as well as area merchants.
The chef at one of the victimized restaurants described the imposter as a man in his early 40s, standing roughly 6'3" and weighing around 230 pounds with very light brown or tan skin and dark hair. He was wearing black square-framed designer glasses while at the restaurant, the chef said.
"I am deeply saddened that quality restaurateurs, chefs and dining industry professionals … have been negatively affected by this unfortunate occurrence," Hernández said.
Executive editor Kathy Day said the newspaper does not request free food for Hernandez or other reporters and asked that restaurateurs who have questions please call her at (858) 875-5950.