By usurping the identity of official organisms or people, many scam artists manage to extort money from companies by tricking them into paying for products or services they did not order (and that probably do not even exist). At first glance, these bills appear to be legitimate as they include threatening and confusing legal jargon to create a false sense of urgency to pressure recipients to make quick payments. We gathered the most common types of fake invoices scams for your convenience:
Registrar of Companies Scams.
The idea is to be part of a very confidential commercial registrar, which is also hardly accessible; this is what is offered by the European Institute for Economy and Commerce (IEEC). When a professional declares, changes or stops his activities; he has to make the change public in the Official Bulletin of Civil and Commercial Announcements (Bodacc). The scammers will send an invoice by post for the fake registration to the professional, including a copy of the legal announcement published in the Bodacc, which gives an official character to the act.
These bodies claim payment from your company by pretending to have acted as an intermediary for your trademark registration.
Scammers will pretend to act as the trademark registration body and will ask you for money in exchange for completing your trademark application. They can use official templates from other institutions, and make you believe that they are the people in charge when all they want is to make money from you for nothing in exchange.
Business Directory Scams
When receiving a request for information, you can think you are dealing with a business directory offering a free listing in their guide. But, after a closer inspection, this form is actually an order form. For entry in a list published as a succession of business cards, European City Guide (ECG) charges a final fee of 787 euros. Worse, Annuaire Pro costs 1,010.62 euros per year for inclusion in a very little-used internet guide. To top it all off, each signatory commits for at least two years.
How to protect yourself from fake invoices?
- Make sure to only deal with invoices coming from original bodies such as the official Chamber of Commerce, the official Trademark Registrar of your country…
- Always check the identity of the sender if possible (email address, website, contact details…).
- Carefully read the small print, and if those are illegible (e.g. in the case of faxes), do not answer the mail.
- Do you have a doubt? Check internally with a colleague or a superior if possible, in order to verify the truthfulness of the invoice, and of course check Scamadviser.com.
Thank you for report a misuse case.