BOOMINGTON - A company accused of mailing false invoices to customers may be targeting the Central Illinois area.
The business already is the subject of a pending lawsuit filed in August by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. Her office received an invoice for telecommunications maintenance services from UST Development Inc., doing business as US Telecom.
In a news release, Madigan said the invoices falsely led some consumers to believe they had contracted with the California-based company for telephone maintenance services.
Brian Funk, owner of Independent Telephone Services, a Bloomington equipment and maintenance service, said his office has received notification from current customers about the invoices.
"They are getting confused because of these odd bills or knowing they have already paid and are thinking they are getting another bill from us," Funk said. "We are trying to get the word out because once you pay that money to this company, you can't get it back."
The scam is targeting businesses, schools, government agencies and in some cases, residents, Madigan said.
"This company made up charges out of thin air," Madigan said. "We didn't have to go very far to find the evidence of this scam since fake invoices were also sent to my office."
The invoices are usually for $425 and for maintenance services, Funk said, and it's not the first time the scam has been attempted.
"We have customers in Iowa and Wisconsin and they (the scammers) tried this two years ago," he said. "It's frustrating."
Funks said he has notified local police, but Normal Police Chief Rick Bleichner said it is difficult to stop scams once they start.
"We hear about scams all of the time and they don't always target residents, sometimes it is businesses or government agencies," he said. "No matter what, you have to verify who you are sending the check to."
Bloomington Police Department spokesman Dave White said various scams are reported almost daily.
If you should receive an invoice and don't believe it is legitimate, you should contact your local police department.