Business Hijacking: Local Magazine Targeted by Scammers - WBAY

Target 2 Consumer Alert

Business Hijacking: Local Magazine Targeted by Scammers

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Fox Valley -

You've heard of personal identity theft, but a business can also be a target.

It's called business hijacking, and it happened to a Fox Valley company.

Sean Fitzgerald is the publisher of "New North B2B," a monthly business magazine.  It goes out to 5,000 business owners across Northeast Wisconsin, but suddenly, the magazine's decade long reputation was hijacked.

"Just a phone call out-of-the-blue from someone responding to a job posting they saw on Craigslist they believed was for us," Fitzgerald said.

The company only has two employees, and Fitzgerald wasn't hiring.

"It was from North B2B--a variation of our name--and it had a description of their company which basically copied and pasted the description of our company from our website," Fitzgerald said.

More job seekers started calling and Fitzgerald started investigating. He tracked the Craigslist posting to someone named "Konstantin Muchnik" in Russia.

It was a counterfeit check cashing scheme, trying to lure victims hunting for job. The magazine was a victim of business hijacking.

Fitzgerald contacted Craigslist to get the job listing removed, and he also contacted the Fox Valley Better Business Bureau.

"Anecdotally, the Better Business Bureau hears regularly about scammers who are using the addresses, or maybe even phone numbers, of legitimate businesses just to establish credibility with their victims or their targets," said Susan Bach, Better Business Bureau.

To warn other businesses, Fitzgerald wrote an article in the magazine about the company's "Personal Lesson in Risk Management."

"Contact the Better Business Bureau. Do look into the incident on Craigslist.  Don't let this pass your business by and assume it will go away," Fitzgerald said.

Luckily, Fitzgerald says "New North B2B" didn't suffer any kind of liability--legally or financially.

"For the most part we've just had to deal with a number of phone calls from people inquiring about a job offer," Fitzgerald said.  "You're telling people that have high hopes for a new job, that it's not a job--an actual job-- it's a scam that's been perpetrated by someone else. We appreciate their calling and letting us know about it."

You can read the article Sean Fitzgerald wrote about "New North B2B" magazine's experience http://newnorthb2b.com/from-the-publisher-october-2012.html

You can check out a potential employer or business at  http://wisconsin.bbb.org/

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