Contact 6: Scammers targeting small business owners

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- FOX6's Contact 6 says scammers are targeting small business owners.

"Millions of dollars were taken by these fraudsters, from victims," U.S. Postal Inspector Jason Crowe said.

The scam involved lightbulbs.

"The suspect in this investigation sent out invoices for light bulbs that were not ordered and that were often not received by the victim companies," Crowe said.

By examining hundreds of invoices and bank records, postal inspectors identified 800 victims.

"(The lightbulbs) were grossly overpriced," Crowe said.

So why would a business end up paying an invoice for a product it never ordered?

"Because the accounts payable department and the local stores aren`t in sync with what the other is doing," Crowe said.

Some advice: be vigilant. If you get a bill, make sure it's from a vendor you recognize. Always be aware of who you are dealing with.

"Keep good records. Second, don`t be afraid to ask good questions and third, report scams when you see them," Assistant U.S. Attorney Adam Reeves said.

Losses in this scam totaled $3 million. The suspect was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay more than $100,000 in restitution.

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