Since the late 1970's, scammers have targetted businesses across the United States with a small and simple, but effective swindle -- call and ask for the serial numbers of a copier/fax machine in the building. The scam artist then has a pallette of copier paper delivered -- usually low-grade -- along with an invoice for an astronomical sum.
The culprit is counting on the office manager paying the invoice without checking with the shipper first, assuming that the order is legitimate. Sometimes, the scammer will even serupticiously find out the name of the person in charge of ordering supplies, and include this name and contact info on the supply invoice.
The FTC has collected numerous complaints about this scam, and has arrested hundreds of people involved in scamming businesses for office supplies. Though the amount is usually less than $1,000, these individuals are preying on small and medium sized companies -- those that can least afford it, especially in these troubled economic times.
To avoid being scammed, make sure your emplyees know that they should never give out the name of the person in charge of purchasing, even if the person on the line claims to be a survey taker, or from a legitimate office supply vendor (Staples, Office Max, Office Depot).
And if you are taken in -- don't pay the bill. The FTC says businesses are not required to pay for supplies that they have not ordered directly.
Federal Trade Comission:
Better Business Bureau: