Is that invoice a scam?

Scammers call small businesses to get information, send fake bills

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

A heads up for small business owners.  A new scam is stealing millions of dollars from thousands of people.  The scheme begins with a phone call and a question about a printer.

"Receptionists would get a call, mysterious cyber call, where someone is seeking to know the printer type. They wanted to know what type of printer they used," explained U.S. Postal Inspector Kim Gordon.

The caller would also want to know the name of the person on the other end of the line.

"Shortly after that, the company would receive via fax or the U.S. mail an invoice that looked like a legitimate invoice that they owed over $1000 for toner cartridge and it was directed to the person who answered the phone," Gordon added.

Postal inspectors began tracking the case after they and the Better Business Bureau received dozens of complaints.

"They send the invoices hoping this employee will pay the invoice they will think its legitimate company supplier of toner cartridge," she said.

Most businesses have a printer or copying machine and a need for toner, so the con-men assume no one will question the invoice.

"If they do pay the invoice, they will get more invoices in increasing amounts. The first one could be $1000 the next one could by $3,000 to $4,000," warned Gordon.

More than 60 victims lost $80,000 in this scam. Postal inspectors advise you to read all invoices carefully and never assume you owe money just because someone sent an invoice.

Read more about bogus invoices from Fraud.org.

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