Fake checks, fake websites, government imposters among top small business scams

Scammers routinely use counterfeit checks to trick small businesses. KOMOphoto

We routinely hear how scammers target us as individuals, but people who run small businesses can really get taken.

The Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau are joining forces to get the word out. According to FTC, small businesses lost $290 million to scammers over the past several years.

The con artists use a variety of tricks and count on people to take them at their word. Sometimes they pose as business customers.

When scammers discovered Michelle Blunt was an independent cosmetics distributor, they posed as a new customer ordering a birthday gift. The order came to more than $300, but the check was for hundreds of dollars over that amount.

The client offered a story about her accountant making a mistake and wanted Michelle to wire back the balance. Michelle smelled a rat and stopped communicating, which was the smart thing to do.

Fake checks for merchandise are a top small business scam.

Another common scam is to pose as a billing employee for local utilities. Scammers demand immediate payment, with a prepaid money card, and threaten to disconnect the power while customers are present.

But utilities never call business out of the blue and make demands like that. Ever.

Other top scams on the new alert list:

  • Advertising and internet services
  • Fake supply invoices
  • Imposters claiming to represent a bank, credit card company or government agency

If you or anyone you know runs a small business or works for one, always verify everything before releasing money, products or financial information.

I recently talked to one local employee who ordered $26,000 worth of cargo containers for his employer. But the website he used turned out to be fake.

The merchandise was never shipped and the fake company would not return the money. That's $26,000 down the drain.

The employee reported the scam to the BBB Scam Tracker to make other people aware so they don't get burned.

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