This corporation has officially received its very first fake invoice (click on any of the images to view the full size). This fake invoice, whose parent company is identified as “The Marks Kft.”, is related to a recent Canadian trade-mark application. The scammer gathered the needed mailing address information from the Canadian Trade-marks Journal where my proposed trade-mark was advertised.
Billing scams are an ongoing problem, and way too many businesses get suckered in simply because their billing system has an all too common weak link: an individual who simply has no clue how to tell apart a real invoice from a fake one.
This is where I got the idea for a new TV show which attempts to track down the origin of these scams. For example, I did a bit of research on the mailing address, and this is what I’ve found in just a few minutes.
The town of Szombathely, Hungary. Looks like a nice place. In fact, here’s one of the images linked in Google Earth.
Chances are there’s a postal box outlet in the area where the scammer receives their “payments.” Also, the return address is most likely the only valid piece of information available on the invoice, with all the bank information most likely being fake.
The scammer will most likely never be prosecuted no matter how much money the individual has earned from this particular scam. The problem is that the fraud is being committed in Canada, and not in Hungary. And even though Hungary is a member of the European Union, the objective of the European Anti-Fraud Office as presented on their main page is very clear:
“The mission of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) is to protect the financial interests of the European Union, to fight fraud, corruption and any other irregular activity, including misconduct within the European Institutions. In pursuing this mission in an accountable, transparent and cost-effective manner, OLAF aims to provide a quality service to the citizens of Europe.”
In other words, the Office will intervene only if citizens of European Union member nations are victims of any particular fraud. Everyone outside the European Union is pretty much on their own.
The only practical information that can be given to businesses at this time is to question the origin of all of your invoices. If you’re unable to confirm if a request for payment is legitimate or not, simply don’t pay it. It’s actually much easier to deal with a delinquent legitimate payment than live with the reality that you’ve willingly given your hard-earned money to a thief.