Scam alert: Bozeman business scammed for $25,000 from a manageme - ABC FOX Montana Local News, Weather, Sports KTMF | KWYB

Scam alert: Bozeman business scammed for $25,000 from a management company

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BOZEMAN -

As fraudsters grow more daring with schemes targeting businesses, Better Business Bureau warns business owners and purchasing agents to be on the lookout for fake purchase orders.

A recent scam targeting businesses and involving phony purchase orders has cheated business owners across the United States out of more than $950,000 in reported losses so far and now hits a local Bozeman cleaning supply store.

The business Waterford Management contacted the House of Clean in Bozeman looking for a large credit purchase of items like Downy and Bounce. It wasn't until they sent over $25,000 worth of product before they realized it was a scam. Now one employee hopes to warn other before making the same mistake.

"I was completely in all over the whole thing I literally lost sleep over the whole situation, said Shelly Bogle, House of Clean Employee.

Shelly Bogle a sales employee at House of Clean was the employee who dealt with the scammers.

"You don't think it's gonna happen in Montana, I felt like I let them down which I did let $25,000 worth of product that let go out the door for free," said Bogle.

She says her company and her felt like everything about the company Waterford Management seemed credible.

“I had search and search online when I first got this credit application from this customer their website looked awesome it was very informative it looked very legit," said Bogle.

When she asked the company why they wanted to order from House of Clean they responded: “that they managed facilities in Montana specifically in Billings in Great Falls and that it was just easier to get that product from a local vendor and so they had the right answers for everything."

When the shipment was sent that's when the company went dark without paying for the products.

“You couldn't get a hold of anybody from management anymore the phone messages kept on going to voice mail emails weren't being returned," said Bogle.

Bogle is hoping that no one else has to go through what happened to her.

“I don't want anyone else to fall for that and that's just a huge burden for an employee at a company,” said Bogle.

Here is some information from the Better Business Bureau so you don’t get scanned by companies like this.

How the Scam Works:

A fraudulent business rents a virtual office and creates an online presence. They open a bank account. They create marketing materials that they send out to suppliers around the country. They even create fake online entities to serve as references for them.

After a quick look, they seem legitimate, so when they order merchandise, businesses fulfill the orders – only to find out later that they fell for a scam and will not be paid.

To avoid phony purchase orders, BBB advises business owners and purchasing agents to:

  • Watch out for unusually large orders. Scammers often target smaller businesses and place large orders, hoping the chance of profit overrides their victims’ judgment. Large orders – particularly from new customers – are often a red flag.
     
  • Be leery of email-only solicitations. Many scams have roots overseas. Watch out for situations where email is the only form of contact. Also, be on the lookout for misspellings and grammatical errors in solicitations you receive.
     
  • Do your research. Visit bbb.org to research businesses looking to do business with you. Keep in mind that business identity theft is a growing issue. Fraudsters often impersonate legitimate businesses in the hopes of defrauding unsuspecting businesses.
     
  • Confirm everything. If you receive an order from a potential new customer, even a business with an established track record, it is a good idea to verify the order directly with the company. Make sure you are using accurate contact information and do not just use the phone number on the purchase order you have received.
     
  • Make sure the references are real. In this day and age, creating fake online entities is fairly easy. When you are doing your research, go beyond a simple phone call. Do an internet search on the company seeking to do business with you as well as their references. Legitimate companies should have a digital ‘footprint.’ If you can’t find much on a given company, it could mean they are new or it could mean they are not what they seem.
     
  • Trust your instincts. A business owner who received a fake purchase order recently said the size of the order raised a red flag. So did the fact that they were not asked for a competitive bid. In addition, BBB regularly hears from consumers and business owners who state they ‘just knew something was wrong,’ but failed to heed that instinct. If something seems off to you, pay close attention to that feeling.
     
  • Have a process in place. When it comes to handling orders, make sure you have a reliable system in place to vet and verify those orders, and that all of your staff are fully trained to follow this process.

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