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Green Eggs & Scam 17 business scams--from telephone trickery to Web wrongdoing--to avoid at all costs

By Gwen Moran

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

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

Sarris is just one of thousands of entrepreneurs targeted byscam artists each year. In fact, the Association of CertifiedFraud Examiners estimates that fraud, ranging from bogusbilling and dishonest direct mail to sales scams, costs U.S.businesses more than $400 billion annually. Shirley Rooker,president of Call for Action Inc., a nonprofit scam-bustingorganization in Bethesda, Maryland, thinks more businesses need totake the problem seriously.

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