Lease Is More

Bogus Bills

Just because you're responsible for paying bills doesn't mean you should pay every bill. Many small businesses have received invoices from bogus companies that have provided them with neither goods nor services. Just invoices. But many preoccupied entrepreneurs pay promptly without ever realizing they've been scammed.

While some perpetrators of such scams simply do widespread mailings, hoping a percentage of inattentive businesspeople will remit payments, others are more sophisticated. They might send an invoice replicating that of a major utility company or office supply store. Check each bill carefully to ensure it's genuine.

Other scam artists go even further. Their legitimate-looking invoices include the name of an employee who is supposed to have authorized the purchase. They may call and ask for help completing an existing order, claiming they "lost the name of the person we should send these cleaning supplies to."

Often, criminals ship merchandise one week and an invoice a week later. The two rarely arrive together for two reasons: the price charged for the merchandise is often inflated as much as tenfold (less obvious if the invoice arrives after the merchandise has been put away) and it's likely the victim will have opened the package and used the contents before the invoice arrives.

Contact Sources

Best Friends Pet Care Inc., 520 Main Ave., Norwalk, CT 06851, http://www.bestfriends.net

Deloitte & Touche LLP, 180 N. Stetson Ave., Chicago, IL 60601, (312) 946-2084

Santa Fe Printing, (505) 982-8111, print@santafeprinting.com

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Lease Is More.

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