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Scam squad

Initiative aims to shield small businesses

Postal Inspector
New York Postal Inspector Daniel Gabel speaks to reporters last week at a press conference announcing the Operation Main Street: Stopping Small Business Scams initiative.

The Postal Inspection Service is part of a new law enforcement initiative to protect small businesses from fraudsters.

Operation Main Street: Stopping Small Business Scams, which was announced last week, involves 24 civil and criminal actions against defendants who allegedly defrauded small businesses.

Several cases involved operations that sent businesses phony bills and invoices for products and services that were never rendered.

“In today’s world, fraud prevention is not just for the individual. Everyone needs to pay close attention to their bank accounts,” said New York Postal Inspector Daniel Gabel, who spoke at a news conference in Washington, DC, where the initiative was introduced.

Gabel highlighted a case in which an alleged fraudster netted $3.3 million by mailing hundreds of businesses invoices for copier toner that they never received. He said the scam “highlights the vulnerabilities of small business that may not have the fraud prevention resources as larger companies.”

Other organizations involved in Operation Main Street include the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which released a survey that found two-thirds of respondents said their business had been targeted by a scammer during the past three years.

“Scams are a significant — and growing — problem for small businesses,” said Beverly Baskin, the BBB’s president and chief executive officer.

Through Operation Main Street, the Inspection Service is providing small-business owners with several tips, such as:

  • Check the validity of all bills and invoices
  • Make sure more than one person reviews invoices before they are paid
  • Preapprove all vendors to ensure payment goes to the right company

The FTC and BBB news releases have more information.

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