June 6, 2012
Department of Consumer Protection Launches Investigation
into UST – US Telecom
Company allegedly sending bogus invoices to public organizations
HARTFORD, June 6 – The Department of Consumer Protection has launched an investigation into a company that has sent invoices to state agencies and may also be targeting municipalities, schools, businesses and other government agencies, for a warranty to cover preventative maintenance for technology services. Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein is warning organizations to be alert to this and similar solicitations and billing-related scams.
“We have been notified by State agencies that received these invoices; they indicate they are not working with UST or US Telecom for warranty services, and are unfamiliar with them as vendors,” Rubenstein said today. “We’ve discovered that UST - US Telecom was cited recently by New York and North Dakota for deceptive practices in those states.”
The billing invoices gave no product information and no indication that a contract was in the offering, nor did it include advertising or solicitation purpose, giving the impression that the service was already rendered and payment now due. See sample at this link.
In Connecticut, invoices in the amount of $425 were mailed by UST – US Telecom to at least two state agencies: the Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Education. Invoices may have also been sent to school districts and municipal agencies, as occurred in cities nationwide before the scam was identified.
“Businesses, schools and local and state government offices should watch for these “invoices” from UST or US Telecom, and should not send payment,” Rubenstein said. “Meanwhile, my office is undertaking an investigation into this company for its deceptive practices.”
The company is listed on numerous fraud alert websites; currently the Department is aware of hundreds of complaints about UST – US Telecom and this fraudulent billing practice.
UST Development, Inc. does business as UST and US Telecom, and is a California corporation with its principal place of business at 305 North Sacramento Avenue, Ontario, California, but is currently using the mailing address of PO Box 970, Laverne, California.
To help organizations avoid being defrauded by these or any bogus invoices, the Department of Consumer Protection advises fiscal staff to:
Watch for solicitations disguised as bills. Fake invoices are sometimes marked with the notice “This is not a bill.”
Review all bills and invoices carefully. Be especially wary of any from companies that you are unfamiliar with.
Know the vendors you use regularly, and keep a list.
Make sure you have effective internal controls in place for the payment of invoices.
Verify all invoices with the person who authorized the purchase.
Anyone who has received an “invoice” from UST or US Telecom for unordered, undelivered or unsolicited services is encouraged to notify the Department of Consumer Protection at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-842-2649.