By RUSTY MARKS
The State Journal
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A Charleston-area computer technician is warning area business owners to be on the lookout after receiving what appeared to be a phony invoice for copy machine toner.
Matthew Perry, a network administrator and information security officer for the Masters Law Firm in Charleston, said he became suspicious after the law firm got an invoice for copy toner from a company called IT Tech Products in Cosa Mesa, California. The invoice asked Masters to pay $1,676 for toner plus $14 shipping.
“We get our toner from Xerox, which caused me to wonder why we would be getting a bill for toner,” Perry said.
“IT Tech Products, PO Box 12017, Costa Mesa, CA 92627, Phone 877-910-2009 sent an ‘invoice’ in the amount of $1,690 for toner never ordered by this office,” reads one complaint filed on the consumer advocacy website Ripoff Report Sept. 25. “From the amount of complaints on BBB, they are in the business of ripping off other businesses.”
“Sent an invoice for four toners for $1,676 plus tax and shipping,” read another complaint filed Oct. 18 on a website for the Business Consumer Alliance. “We never ordered from this company and have never used them or heard of them and never received any toner. All toner is ordered from my husband’s company so I immediately knew it was a scam. You picked the wrong victim.”
Company officials responded to the website complaint on Nov. 1, saying the order had been canceled.
Perry said he did not pay the invoice, instead calling the number listed on the invoice. He got a telephone message from the company the next day, saying the bill was in error and to disregard the invoice.
“I came to the conclusion that the invoice was a scam,” Perry said. “I’d be willing to bet they’re just sending out invoices hoping people will pay them without really looking at them.”
Representatives from IT Tech Products did not immediately return a reporter’s telephone call on Monday.
Curtis Johnson, communications director for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, said similar scams are not uncommon.
“In the past four years, our office has received one complaint against a company called IT Tech Products,” Johnson said, though he added he could not be sure it was the same company that sent the invoice to the Masters Law Firm.
“Every business must carefully check each invoice and/or bill against its list of ordered items,” he said. “Anything suspicious or inconsistent should merit further review and research as to the legitimacy of the business.”
Perry said he did not report the suspicious bill to the attorney general’s office. But he thinks officials at local companies should check all their invoices carefully before paying them.
Johnson said the attorney general’s office is available to help citizens or business owners who think they may have been taken advantage of.
“Those with additional questions should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808, the Eastern Panhandle Consumer Protection Office in Martinsburg at 304-267-0239 or visit the office online at www.wvago.gov,” he said.
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