The Federal Trade Commission has scored a victory in an effort to combat an alleged small business scamming ring.
An announcement by the agency on Tuesday (Dec. 29) said the FTC’s request to halt and freeze assets of an operation was granted by a federal court. The operation is alleged to have stolen millions of dollars from small businesses and nonprofits through a widespread office supply scam.
[bctt tweet=”The FTC has scored a victory in an effort to combat an alleged SME scamming ring.”]
The FTC stated that the organization, which was operating as Omni Services and involved individuals from Liberty Supply Co., hounded these businesses for payments for office supplies that were unfairly priced. The scam involved defendants quoting businesses at a per-unit price of items but led buyers to believe that that per-unit price was actually for a bundle of items.
The agency noted that the sellers did not disclose the final price of the office supplies nor did they notify buyers of shipping cost, even when that information was requested.
The sellers then allegedly “aggressively” sought payment for unordered products, the FTC said.
“When consumers paid the full amount, the defendants called to thank them and then offered and sent a free gift, along with more unordered merchandise and an invoice for it,” the FTC continued. The sellers claimed to have a transcript of a call in which buyers placed an order for these products, though refused to provide that transcript to the companies.
The defendants are charged with violating the FTC Act and other rules, the commission said.
The alleged scam appears to be an intricate version of the invoice scam, a popular scam in which fraudsters pose as company suppliers and send businesses fake invoices, demanding to be paid. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has issued several notices about these scams already this year.
Businesses have seen a spike in similar scams towards the end of 2015, recent reports found.