Consumer Alert: Scam targeting small business costs victim hundreds

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - International con artists are now targeting small business owners with a scam that could add up to big money.

The scam began with an email order for fliers and business cards sent to a Minuteman Press Store.

"Everything appeared to be legitimate," said fraud victim Ken Schaeffer.

Schaeffer became suspicious when the payment arrived.

"We received a postal money order and it was for more than what it should have been," Schaeffer says.

Schaeffer was told part of the payment was for printing expenses. The other part was for business expenses for the person picking up the order.

"He asked us to go to the bank, deposit it and if we could please take what was left and send the balance to his partner," says Schaeffer.

Schaeffer did what he was asked. A few days later he checked his bank account and discovered the money order had bounced.

"A wonderful scammer, par excellence," Schaeffer says.

The conman sent Schaeffer a second money order. By then, Schaeffer was on to him.

"In fact, they had the same serial number on the bottom," Schaeffer says.

U.S. Postal Inspectors say there are a few ways to avoid the scam.

"If it's a postal money order, go to the post office," says U.S. Postal Inspector Blanca Alvarez. "Ask then to look up the money order and find out if its legitimate."

"You feel violated. You feel taken advantage of. You're saying, gosh I should have known better," Schaeffer says.

Schaeffer lost about $800. He says to check your bank account every few days. He says if he didn't, he wouldn't have discovered the money order had bounced and he could have ended up losing even more money.

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