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Rip-Off Alert: Phony invoices can help scammers profit

Reported by: Marie Mortera
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Updated: 12/18/2012 5:13 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV MyNews3) -- A warning to small business owners: If you're not paying attention to the bills you receive, you could fall victim to a popular scam. The end result is a hit to your bottom line and a jackpot for the scam artist.

The scam involved light bulbs.

"Millions of dollars were taken by these fraudsters, from victims," said U.S. Postal Inspector Jason Crowe. "The suspect in this investigation sent out invoices for light bulbs that were not ordered and that were often not received by the victim companies."

By examining hundreds of invoices and bank records, postal inspectors identified 800 victims, paying for “grossly overpriced” light bulbs, according to Crowe.

Why would a business end up paying an invoice for a product it never ordered?

"Because the accounts payable department and the local stores aren't in sync with what the other is doing,” Crowe said.

If you get a bill, make sure it's from a vendor you recognize, and always be aware of who you are dealing with

The total loss in this scam was $3 million. The suspect was convicted and sentenced to 4 years in prison and ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution.
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