Fake Yellow Pages bill didn’t add up for accountant

A HERVEY Bay accountant was the target of scammers when he received a bill for more than $1000 claiming to be from Yellow Pages Australia.

Drew Stephenson was bemused to receive the bill in the mail, as he had already paid for his ad in the Yellow Pages directory this year.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission issued a warning about the scam last week, reporting that small businesses had reported seeing a spike in faxes claiming to be from the telephone directory, with the bills using similar colours and logos.

Hervey Bay accountant Drew Stephenson with the fake Yellow Pages bill he received.
Hervey Bay accountant Drew Stephenson with the fake Yellow Pages bill he received. Carlie Walker

Upon close inspection of the bill, Mr Stephenson noticed the company's address was listed in Hong Kong, while its legal company had an address in Dubai.

The amount Mr Stephenson was asked to pay was $1188.

Mr Stephenson said what made the scam particularly cunning was that it was about the same time of year that businesses would be expecting bills from the directory to arrive.

He said the scammers were obviously going through the phone book and targeting the businesses that were listed.

ACCC deputy chair Michael Schaper said scammers were "very sophisticated and target small businesses at busy times when they're more vulnerable to fall victim".

"The perpetrators behind this 'Yellow Pages' scam would likely be trying to take advantage of the new financial year period to trick busy businesses into signing up to an unwanted service," he said.

Two foreign companies have previously been prosecuted by the ACCC for sending thousands of faxes purporting to be from Yellow Pages.

The companies were eventually fined $2.7 million.

Mr Schaper warned that, as with the previous scam, the fraudsters may hassle for payment.

The ACCC recommends binning the fax and ignoring and reporting any phone calls, letters or emails.