“It’s so unfair:” Fake invoice scam targeting Wisconsin business owners

UNION GROVE -- A scam is targeting business owners all across southeastern Wisconsin. Among those business owners is Gina Kiedrowski. She runs Playmate Kennels and Stables in Union Grove.

Kiedrowski says her business is being targeted by others looking for easy money.

"These companies have been harassing me probably for the last 10 years," Kiedrowski said.

Gina Kiedrowski runs Playmate Kennels and Stables.

Kiedrowski showed FOX6's Contact 6 a handful of fake invoices she's received by fax. The claim Kiedrowski owes thousands of dollars in advertising fees for her kennel plus accumulated late fees and legal fees.

The faxed invoices aren't the only problem. Kiedrowski says she gets phone calls every week.

"Even in the middle of the night I will get phone calls of harassment -- at two in the morning," Kiedrowski said. "If you ask them questions, they start to get irritated."

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau says this is a common and profitable scam.

"If you send out emails to a couple thousands firms, if one percent of half a percent respond and give you thousands of dollars, they're making their money's worth," explained Jim Temmer, the president and CEO of the Wisconsin BBB.

Temmer says if they get you on the phone, they can be demanding.

"They can get pretty belligerent. They can be threatening lawsuits. They can be demanding payments, and it's all just a scam," Temmer said.

If a business owner falls for the scam once, they're more likely to be targeted again.

Jim Temmer, President and CEO of the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau, talks to Contact 6's Jenna Sachs.

"Businesses that do fall for this once, they get put onto a list that is sold to other scammers," Temmer explained.

Kiedrowski says that's exactly what happened to her.

Fifteen years ago, a scammer pretending to represent the yellow pages convinced her to pay more than $400.

"It's so unfair. We're not big corporations. We don't have nothing to go back on. Once the money is gone, the money is gone," Kiedrowski said.

The BBB says businesses need to question every invoice especially if it seems out of the blue.  They can also send a copy of the invoice to the BBB and ask them to take a look.