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Green Eggs & Scam

17 business scams--from telephone trickery to Web wrongdoing--to avoid at all costs

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This story appears in the January 2002 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Something smelled fishy to George Sarris. When the 49-year-old owner of The Fish Market Restaurant in Birmingham, Alabama, opened a letter from a disgruntled customer demanding a $6.89 refund, his gut told him to check it out. He didn't recall the customer and, after a few phone calls, realized that the author of the letter was nowhere to be found. Then, Sarris started hearing that similar letters were popping up in eateries all over town. In fact, the same "customer" who had written to Sarris had blanketed other area restaurants with demands for refunds.

"He didn't ask for a lot of money, so some people would probably send it, no questions asked," says Sarris. "If he sent out 1,000 letters and got half back, that's over $3,000."

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