No, not the doowop song by Gene Chandler, but a form of fraud aimed at small businesses and non-profits. Here’s how the scam works: Con artists send fake invoices to businesses, listing the domain name or URL of the company’s website or a slight variation – like substituting ".org" for ".com." The bills, designed to look like they come from a domain name registrar, say the company owes money for its annual "website address listing" and "search optimization" service. Busy entrepreneurs are led to believe they have to pay to keep the company URL up and running. Others are induced to pony up based on claims that the search optimization service will increase web traffic. Concerned about losing their domain names, companies pay the bogus bills – and get zilch in return.
The FTC went to court to shut down Toronto-based Internet Listing Service, a company that used that M.O. to bilk thousands of businesses. The settlements and default judgments entered by a federal judge in Chicago bar the defendants from using that scheme again.
What steps can you take to protect your business from B2B scammers? Fraudsters use similar tactics to fraudulently bill companies for directory listings, office supplies, and other day-to-day purchases. Compile a contact list of your regular vendors. Encourage employees who open the mail or pay the bills to develop a "show me" attitude when it comes to unexpected invoices from companies they’re not familiar with. Don’t pay for products or services you’re not sure you ordered. Read Throwing the Book at Business Directory Scams to find out more.