search articles: 

   from the issue of January 27, 2005

Police warn: beware of phony invoice scams


Kerry Acker, assistant to the dean of the College of Law, picked up the phone and got a pitch for what sounded like a money-saving deal on copy machine toner. The caller, claiming to be affiliated with the college's office machine vendor, said toner prices were on the rise and the vendor had held back some at the old price.

The caller followed up with a legitimate-looking invoice by fax, including detailed information about the $439 purchase, college contact information, and a big "x" where Acker was to sign. The red flags went up and Acker soon realized the offer was bogus.

Assistant UNL Police Chief Fred Gardy says fraudulent invoices - sent by fax, e-mail or regular mail-are a growing crime targeting large institutions and UNL is no exception. The goods are at best overpriced and unneeded. At worst, they are never shipped.

"By blitzing many companies, even if they have a 3 percent return, they're making good money," Gardy said. "These companies rely on a person with a busy day who doesn't take time to review the bills."

Gardy said if there is any question about the validity of an invoice, confirm with the vendor, verify with the person who receives supplies. Most important, Gardy said is, "Don't pay unless you're familiar with what you're getting." If a department does fall victim to a scam, campus police should be contacted.

Acker was on the ball. She checked with her business manager and confirmed with her usual copy machine vendor that no salesman had called. Ultimately, when the scammers called back wondering why Acker hadn't returned the signed fax invoice, she said, "we already have a supplier," and promptly hung up the phone.

"There are a lot of flags, and if you're paying attention, you won't end up costing yourself a fortune," she said.



Carson remembered for philanthropic legacy
Kimmel Center project under way in Nebraska City
Police warn: beware of phony invoice scams
A Piece of University History
Initiative receives 100 proposals
Milliken installation, higher education discussion today
Strategic planning update from Vice Chancellors Couture and Owens