Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2004/06/22/bogus_invoices/

Watch out for the bogus invoice man

Summertime and the scammin' is easy

By Tim Richardson

Posted in Small Biz, 22nd June 2004 09:21 GMT

UK businesses are being warned to be on their guard against bogus invoices for Internet-related services as fraudsters target understaffed firms during the summer.

According to the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), rogue traders take advantage of senior staff taking leave in the summer to trick more-junior employees into paying what looks like an urgent invoice. In many cases, by paying these invoices, the company actually signs up to a contract which forces it to continue paying for years.

Most of these so-called invoices are subscriptions to print or Internet business directories. Many of the fraudsters identified by the EASA originate in Switzerland, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Robert Hilty, head of EASA's taskforce tackling rogue traders, said: "Over the last ten years we have noticed a marked increase in fraudulent direct mailings over the summer months. We want to put a stop to this kind of activity and to ensure that from now on those behind it don't profit from it. It is vital that SMEs across Europe are aware of these scams and know how to deal with them."

Firms are advised to watch out for dodgy invoices and to check each one carefully - especially if they're from overseas or from an unknown supplier. ®

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