A.G. Schneiderman Issues "Alert" Warning Of Fake Invoices Sent To State Agencies, Municipalities & Schools
Fake Invoices Sent To Multiple State Agencies & Schools Asking for $425
Schneiderman: These Are Nothing But Slick Attempts To Defraud Public Entities of Taxpayer Dollars
ALBANY- Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today issued a warning for state agencies and businesses to be on the lookout for a scam involving phony invoices that have been sent across New York State. The mailings, from a California-based company called UST, appear to be a bills for telecom maintenance, but none of the recipients of these letters ever solicited or did business with the company. The invoices request payment for Telecom Maintenance Agreements in the sum of $425.
"Agencies and schools need to be aware that these mailers are nothing but slick attempts to defraud public entities of taxpayer dollars," said Attorney General Schneiderman. "My office will stand ready to pursue individuals who use deceptive practices and schemes to divert taxpayer dollars from their intended destination."
To date, invoices have been mailed to the following state agencies: Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Transportation, Canal Corporation, Office of General Services and Office of the Attorney General. In addition, the Attorney General's office has learned invoices were sent to several school districts (Indian River, Alexandria Central, Carthage, Copenhagen, Hermon Dekalb, Watertown) and the City of Auburn Police Department.
Attorney General Schneiderman's office has sent a cease and desist letter to the company stating:
"This solicitation is deceptive and has the capacity to mislead the recipients of this invoice, potentially resulting in payments to UST for services that were neither ordered nor received. UST's conduct violates New York State General Business Law § 349, which prohibits deceptive acts or practices in the conduct of any business, trade or commerce or in the furnishing of any service in New York State."
In an effort to protect businesses and municipalities against phony bills and invoices, the Attorney General's office offered the following tips:
- Look out for solicitations disguised as bills. Fake invoices are sometimes marked with the notice “This is not a bill.”
- Review all bills and invoices carefully. Be especially wary of any from companies that you are unfamiliar with.
- Know the vendors you use regularly, and keep a list.
- Make sure you have effective internal controls in place for the payment of invoices.
- Verify all invoices with the person who authorized the purchase.
- Check the BBB Business Review on any business that has contacted you before signing anything or giving out any payment information.
If you have an unresolved issue or believe you have been misled by this business, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General's office at: 1-800-771-7755 or contact the Better Business Bureau at: www.bbb.org.
To see the invoice sent to various entities click here: http://www.ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/press-releases/2012/UST-Invoices.pdf
For a full copy of the cease and desist letter click on link: http://www.ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/press-releases/2012/UST-cease-and-desist-ltr.pdf