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Business Scams ... a Pet Peeve!

The world seems to have more than its fair share of unscrupulous operators! These are businesses that employ nefarious and possibly illegal methods to get business and somehow they seem to get away with it.

The classic of course is the Nigerian scam where you are told that someone has access to millions of dollars and if you could help them get it to a Western bank you could earn some percentage of the cash. Of course all you need to do is send some amount of money (I never got this far) first!

Every year I get a phone call from a Quebec based organization looking for me to buy an ad to support some charity to do with stopping kids from taking drugs. I actually sent money for a couple of years because they said they represented the police in Quebec. Funny that the year I said "no" the tactics changed a little ... first there was the heavy sell, guilt trip and constant calls. When that didn't work they started to send invoices in French, I guess hoping that they will be paid by somebody in accounting ... which could easily happen in a large company. Somewhere buried on the invoice are the words this is not actually an invoice! This year's example says they represent the Quebec Fire Department ... I guess the police thing wasn't working for them!

It must be a favorite time of year for scammers because this week I got another of my favorite calls. This was from a regional directory just wanting to confirm the details of our business that I had provided to them previously. Of course I had done no such thing and had I confirmed the details we would have received an invoice for our "advertising" ... although a charge is never mentioned UNLESS you specifically ask.

The average business owner probably gets caught by some of these scams and many others like them, some of which are just plain hard to spot. The "con artists" can be pretty slick.

Business owners need to be aware of these types of activities and ensure there are good processes around paying invoices, even those relatively small ones. A $150 ad in support of a charity is not a lot of money, but they add up over time and that money could have actually gone to a real charity!

What scams have you seen?