Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Sep 9 2014

 Joint release with Better Business Bureau

The Washington State Office of Attorney General and the Better Business Bureau have joined together to help consumers avoid a school book scam making the rounds to schools in Washington and across the country.

School employees have reported receiving official-looking invoices from a fake company called Scholastic School Supply for some books, often math workbooks, they did not order and have not received.

The name is similar to the publisher Scholastic, which specializes in educational materials. Scammers often use names that are similar to well-known businesses to make their scams seem legitimate.

All the phony invoices appear to be for the same amount – $647.50 – and contain realistic but fake identification information for the company and the books themselves. Trying to call the listed contact phone leads to a circuit of voicemails explaining it will be some time before anyone can return a phone call because of the busy time of year. Consumers say messages to the email address are not returned.

Some versions of the scam list the company’s address in New Jersey or Las Vegas.  Better Business Bureau in Nevada has been unable to find any corporate filings, business licensing or other documentation for the business in that state.
BBB in Nevada has received a total of 51 complaints from consumers in 22 states, including a school in Granite Falls, Wash.  It has also seen more than 2,000 inquiries regarding this scam, with an increase of 15 complaints a day.

Schools and other organizations should remember the following tips to help avoid scams:

  • Encourage your treasurer to watch for invoice scams. 
  • Make sure the invoice is coming from a valid source.  
  • Check out the company that is sending the invoice.  
  • Centralize purchasing and billing so that the person or persons paying the invoices know what was ordered and who the vendors are.  
  • Do a basic Internet search to see if other organizations have reported similar problems. 

Better Business Bureau advises consumers to not pay suspicious invoices, but instead contact the Federal Trade Commission. To find out more about scams or to report one, check out BBB Scam Stopper and stay connected to BBB’s Social Hub.

Those who have already sent payment to the scammer may have already released sensitive information and should check with their financial division to see what steps can be taken against further abuse. They may also file a police report, file a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service or report the scam to the Attorney General’s Office.

-30-

CONTACTS:
Better Business Bureau: David Quinlan, Senior Director of Public Relations, (206) 676-4119
Attorney General’s Office: Alison Dempsey-Hall, Acting Communications Director

The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Attorney General Bob Ferguson is working hard to protect consumers and seniors against fraud, keep our communities safe, protect our environment and stand up for our veterans. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington is one of 113 in North America and the largest BBB by geographical service area. BBB is a neutral not-for-profit public reporting agency committed to trust in the marketplace. For more information on ethical business standards and BBB Accreditation, or to access free BBB Business Reviews, Charity Reviews, scam alerts or find local event information, contact BBB or visit bbb.org.