Australian small businesses lost $566,061 to false billing scams in 2012, according to an ACCC report issued today.
That money is just from the reported cases. So what are false billing scams?
These activities have been around for years. The classic includes billing for goods or services never ordered and dodgy investment opportunities. In recent years offers to register Internet domain names in other countries (and also locally at inflated prices) have been added to the scammers' stock in trade.
Overall, including all the other types scams small businesses and consumers have fallen victim to, that number skyrockets to $93 million.
The ACCC reports cases like the one involving Adepto Publications Pty Ltd, which admitted to making false and misleading representations in relation to advertising services never requested. The company was ordered to pay $500,000, its sole owner and director Craig Mitchell to pay $150,000, and a former manager Danielle McKay, to pay $100,000.
Other wins against small businesses included those against an estate agent for attempting to arrange a price fixing agreement, and a company that used the Australian Made logo without authorisation and making misleading claims about the origin of its products.
The number of complaints from small businesses to the ACCC rose in the first half of 2013 (up to 1,950 complaints, compared to 1,471 in the second half of 2012).