The Better Business Bureau (BBB) serving Nebraska, South Dakota, The Kansas Plains and Southwest Iowa is warning schools and school districts in the BBB’s service area, about possible fake invoices for educational supplies. In the past few weeks, there has been a rush of complaints filed against “Scholastic School Supply” claiming to have either a Nevada or New Jersey address. Both addresses have turned out to be mail drops.
BBB of Southern Nevada received its first complaint against “Scholastic School Supply” on August 20, 2014, and since then has received more than 70 complaints from schools across the country. So far there have been two from schools in Nebraska and one from a school in Kansas all stating that they received invoices for products they had not ordered.
The company’s online BBB Business Review at bbb.org/southern-nevada has also received more than 3,000 inquiries. An Alert is posted there so visitors, checking on this company, are able to confirm the suspicious nature of the invoice. The company maintains a mail drop in Sewell, New Jersey, as well as Las Vegas, and BBB New Jersey has received more than 20 complaints so far.
The bogus invoices have been for $647.50 for the bulk purchase of “English-Language Arts Practice Books” or $388.50 for math workbooks (although the amounts and products could change at any time). Complainants say they cannot reach the company to inquire about the products or amounts allegedly owed, and all have denied ever doing business with the company previously.
BBB President and CEO Jim Hegarty urges schools not to pay the invoices but to send them to the local Postal Inspector and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as their state’s attorney general or consumer protection agency. So far, none of the complainants have sent money; however, BBB has no way of knowing if any schools have unwittingly paid the invoice, since they would not have filed a complaint.
To date, BBB has received complaints from schools in 27 states, including Iowa. Scholastic, Inc. has issued the following statement regarding the fraudulent use of their name and trademarks. “Scholastic School Supply is not affiliated with Scholastic, Inc. It is a company that is illegally using Scholastic’s name and trademark. We only recently became aware of them, but our legal department has demanded that they cease and desist using Scholastic’s name and trademark, which they have agreed to do but have not done yet. In addition, we have been investigating this company and will continue to do so, and if we determine that this company is allegedly violating any other laws, rules or regulations, we will take prompt appropriate action.”
Schools and other organizations should remember the following tips to help avoid scams:
. Encourage your treasurer to watch for invoice scams.
. Make sure the invoice is coming from a valid source.
. Check out the company that is sending the invoice.
. Centralize purchasing and billing so that the person or persons paying the invoices know what was ordered and who the vendors are.
. Do a basic Internet search to see if other organizations have reported similar problems.
For More Information: To check on a business in your area or to report a scam, go to www.bbbinc.org.