Lethbridge Fraud, Protect Your Business
I just received an email from the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce inviting me to a series of seminars on fraud prevention.
The seminars cover:
- Online Fraud
- Payment Card (Debit and Credit Card) Fraud
- Identity Theft
- Fraud Schemes
- Document Shredding
- Internet Deception
No one will argue against the fact that all six issues are important to Canadians but a seventh kind of fraud has been totally neglected. Even though point four will discuss fraud schemes, a business-to-business fraud discussion seems to have no takers.
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Over the past two years I have come across three cases of fraud.
The 3 fraud cases that I stopped are:
The first was from a company operating out of Quebec offering print advertising work. A sales person approached several Lethbridge businesses offering cut-rate printing and distribution. One of my clients contacted me to asked for some older photography we did to be emailed to her. I asked a few questions to understand the technical aspects of what was needed and that’s when the red flags started going up.
My client had no background information on this company other than the fact that they were “legit.” “She wore a nice suit,” my client told me and “we met face to face.” I got the company’s phone number and did my own investigation.
My first step was to go to the website 800notes.com And sure enough, several complaints were registered. Reg Flag 1
The next thing I did was to visit the company’s website. The website was a single page with the same phone number. Red Flag 2
I then called the number and spoke with the sales manager. I asked several questions one of which was, “How long have you been in business?” Her response was “I don’t know…” Red Flag 3
I asked for a client list. She said she couldn’t give that to me to protect the interests of her clients. Red Flag 4.
At this point I called my client and told her to not do business with these people. Unfortunately, several Medicine Hat companies did fall victim to this scam. What happened next was about as bad as the attempted fraud.
I called the Better Business Bureau, the Lethbridge Police, and the RCMP. None of these agencies could offer any help because “a crime had not been committed.” The BBB wasn’t even aware of 800Notes.com which is one of the best fraud prevention tools out there. The RCMP directed me to a website that was utterly useless and, the telephone number on the website operated only on Ontario business hours. I guess the best time to commit a B2B crime in Alberta is 3pm or later, 2pm if you are in BC.
The next case was with a national advertiser who, though they refunded my client their money, did so without admitting any fault. The company is so big I’d rather not mention which one it is. This very large company provided a service that my client had not requested and then, three months later, sent in a salesperson to up sell my client. The up sell was their solution to the problem. I couldn’t believe their arrogance. In their minds, by having my client buy $10,000 in advertising, they would “forgive” the debt. It took me about 45 minutes of explaining to a manager at the company that they may be engaging in an illegal form of negative billing (note: I also disclosed that I was not a lawyer). The problem occurred due to salesperson negligence. The amount due was dropped.
The third case was a different national advertiser that changed its business model and thus altered the product for which my client had contracted. The company said they were handling the issue on a case by case basis. I can only imagine that “case by case” meant, if you find out for yourself that we are not giving you what you paid for then we will give you a credit – but not your money back.
All said, these three cases represent my limited expose to Lethbridge’s plus 2000 business. I am sure that there are more and bigger B2B frauds that no one even knows are happening.