Fresno, California - Crooks are targeting small businesses owners who speak english as a second language. Using fake invoices and taking advantage of the language barrier through intimidating phone calls the scammers are stealing thousands of dollars at a time. A family owned small business tells us it mistakenly paid scammers at least $6,000 last year after repeated phone calls and threats before the Better Business Bureau stepped in and to put a stop to it.
Running both a painting business and a taco truck Jesus Rodarte is recognized by Central California's Better Business Bureau as one of the hardest working businessmen in the Valley. Recently invoices started showing up at his office, one of them appears to be from the Yellow Pages with an Atlanta address demanding advertising payments of more than a thousand dollars at a time.
"They call me between 18 and 20 times a day every day," said Rodarte.
As Rodarte loaded up his work truck each day the calls got even more aggressive.
"They say they're going to send me to court and I would have to pay the full amount and court fees which is probably going to be seven to ten thousand dollars if they do that," said Rodarte.
This award winning businessman contacted the Better Business Bureau, but not before he paid thousands of dollars to the people badgering him. The Better Business Bureau says this invoice and easily accessed clip art is the work of scammers.
"So many scammers use this that's why they put the fake walking fingers on the invoices to send out because you are just going to see that logo and think YP and send the check and mail it off without digging deeper to find out this is not a legitimate invoice," said Kayleena Speakman of the Better Business Bureau.
Rodarte believes he was targeted because english is his second language. He hopes his story will serve as a cautionary tale for other business owners.
"It's not good. It makes me mad because I work hard to make money and they just wanted to keep taking your money," said Rodarte.
Working with the Yellow Pages and other advertisers the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection issued this statement in response to this scam.
"Businesses and other organizations should train their staff to hang up on cold calls about business directory services. report them to the federal trade commission. we can pursue these cases even if the scammers hide in another country."
If you are a business owner and need help to determine if a bill is a scam or not Central California's Better Business Bureau is willing to take a look.