How Scammers Impersonate Schools and Steal Supplies

School may be ending for the summer, but this school impersonation con is just ramping up. Scammers are posing as school representatives and ordering thousands of dollars of goods on real credit accounts.
August 08, 2014

How the Scam Works:

A supply store receives a call from a scammer, posing as a representative of a school. He or she pretends to have lost the school's purchasing account information, and, through a mix of tactics, persuades the store rep to part with the account information.  

Later, a scammer calls the supply store again. He/she uses the account information to make a large order of computers, printer ink, hard drives and other valuable equipment.  The scammer either has the supplies shipped to a third party address or sends them to the school itself. In this case, the scammer calls the school, pretends to be from the store, says the supplies were shipped in error and gets the school to forward them to a new address.   

Often by the time the fraud is discovered, the supplies are gone. But the store ends up with the bill.   

Tips to For Businesses: 

Take the following steps to protect your business from fraudulent orders:   

  • Always verify larger orders. Confirm large and unusual orders with a follow up phone call. Just don't call the number provided on the order form or email. It could be the scammer on the other end.
  • Maintain policies about sharing information:Be sure employees know and adhere to the policies about sharing secure information. 
  • Think about what you put online: Many school systems and businesses make scammers' jobs easier by posting information on their websites about personnel and purchasing accounts.
  • Not all scams look like scams: This con is run by a sophisticated group of scammers. The telltale signs of a scam, such as bad English and unfamiliar area codes, may not apply. Scammers can use caller ID spoofing technology and local employees (who may not even know they are part of a scam) to fool businesses. Just because it doesn't seem like a scam, doesn't mean it isn't.  

For More Information

Check out the FBI alert about the school impersonation scam. To find out more about scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper.