3OYS: Scammers target small businesses


by Warren Trent


Posted on January 22, 2014 at 11:04 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 22 at 11:20 PM

PHOENIX -- Scammers are kind of like fishermen. They cast out the bait and wait for a bite. Lately, they seem to be having luck with small businesses.

Claws & Paws Pet Grooming owner Mandie Shepardson says while she's busy trying to make money, scammers are busy trying to steal it.

"I’m sure there are plenty of small business owners being taken advantage of," she said.

Shepardson says she gets numerous phone calls a week from people offering her so-called deals for her grooming business. But she says she knows many of those offers are actually scams.

"I think it was a Cadillac Escalade or $100,000 cash, and all you had to do was buy like $500 in magnets," she said, recalling one of the offers.

Phoenix Better Business Bureau spokeswoman Felicia Thompson said small business owners are frequently targeted.

"(Scammers are) creating invoices and trying to hide them in other invoices, so they're hoping that (businesses) won't be paying attention to the small details," she said.

According to the Better Business Bureau, there are many different ruses. They include fake business listings, overpayment scams, phony invoice scams, and telemarketers supposedly selling office supplies.

"We're a grooming shop; we don't use office supplies, really," Shepardson said.

Many small businesses are so swamped with work that when they get a fake invoice, they pay it without question.

"They're emailing, calling, even sending letters to business owners, again hoping to just take that one time from someone maybe not paying attention to the details or not reading that fine print," Thompson said.