August 20, 2014 5:22 pm

Fraudsters target office summer staff with phony invoice scam

CALGARY- Fraudsters are targeting businesses, trying to take advantage of summer staffing issues.

Kathryn Ingram does accounting for Avalanche Air Systems, and recently received an invoice for online advertising from J. White Publications in Quebec. Since she never heard of the company and didn’t approve the purchase, she never responded.

“Someone’s always aware of what’s being ordered, so when I saw this I thought ‘there’s no way, there’s no way we hired this company to do any advertising at all,’” Ingram says.

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That’s when a threatening letter showed up, ordering the company to pay up or face a negative credit report.

She believes a phony company was hoping to take advantage of their small business, or the possibility that temporary workers were brought in to help during the summer.

“Had it been anybody else, this could have easily been passed through to payroll or payables…and nobody would have known the difference.”

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says phony invoice scams typically pick up during the summer.

“A lot of businesses may hire out temporary help for people who have gone on vacation, so that’s really what these scammers are counting on,” explains Leah Brownridge. “They’ll just pay that money and that will be the end of it.”

She recommends designating certain employees to make purchases so there is more accountability, and to double-check documentation before paying bills.

Click here for more tips about how to spot a business scam and report it.

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