BBB® Metro New York has registered a sharp increase in consumer reports to BBB Scam TrackerSM about fake invoice scam attempts. New reports from consumers say that the bogus invoices, sent by an outfit calling itself "USTA," are spoofing the addresses of legitimate organizations such as the Mid-Hudson branch of the Metro New York Better Business Bureau in Tarrytown, New York, BBB of Western Pennsylvania, and potentially additional BBB organizations.
Over the past two weeks, BBB of Metro NY has received 15 or more Scam Tracker submissions about this activity, with new reports coming in regularly. Scammers in these recent cases have used phone calls and emails to reach consumers with their fraudulent invoices and demands for payment.
“Fake invoice scam stories can vary, but the key feature is a claim that you owe money for a purchase that has never been made,” said Claire Rosenzweig, President & CEO of BBB Metro New York. “Always do your own research to find contact information for the organization named in the invoice, and call or email them directly to check on its validity before sending money or responding. Don’t use contact information provided with a questionable invoice, since that will lead you right to the scammer.”
While Fake Invoice scams typically target businesses and their employees, consumers may also be targeted with phony invoices for a wide variety of items never purchased, such as website registration, new business registration or products not bought or received.
- High pressure to pay up on an unfamiliar invoice, or threats – these are red flags that you may be encountering a scammer.
- At a business, create a control process for verifying and paying invoices. Never pay an invoice without going through the process. It’s advisable to have several parties doing cross-checks and a formal system.
- For consumer purchases, keep good records of purchases so you have a way of tracking what you did and did not buy. Monitor your credit reports and challenge claims of unpaid debts for items you never purchased, promptly and in writing, to the credit reporting agency listing the phony debt.
- Don’t engage with scammers when you suspect an invoice is fraudulent. Do independent research to identify contact information for the named organization and get in touch directly if you have questions about whether an invoice is genuine.
Please see these additional BBB resources for more information:
- BBB tips on fake invoice scams: https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/16914-bbb-tip-fake-invoice-scams
- BBB tips on vetting unusual invoices at a business: https://www.bbb.org/article/business/23525-bbb-business-tip-unusual-invoice-take-a-closer-look-to-avoid-getting-scammed