September 18, 2012
UST-US Telecom Barred from Doing Business in State and Must Repay Scheme Victims
Department of Consumer Protection Issues Cease and Desist Order over Bogus Invoices
HARTFORD, September 18 -- The Department of Consumer Protection is announcing that it has issued a cease and desist order, including an order of restitution, to a company that sent bogus invoices earlier this year to state and local organizations in Connecticut for non-existent preventative maintenance warranties on technology services.
“We have negotiated a consent order with an order to cease and desist that bars UST-US Telecom from doing business of any kind in Connecticut,” Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein said. “Additionally, we secured restitution for organizations that fell victim to the company’s bogus invoices, and have ordered UST-US Telecom to repay all other Connecticut victims that we learn about.”
In June, the Department launched an investigation into UST-US Telecom after being alerted by several state agencies about suspicious invoices they received from the company.
(See June 6 agency press release, Department Launches Investigation into UST – US Telecom for allegedly sending bogus invoices to public organizations.)
Invoices in the amount of $425 had been mailed by UST – US Telecom to at least two state agencies and to numerous school districts and municipal agencies.
Organizations that received and paid “invoices” from UST or US Telecom for unordered, undelivered or unsolicited services are urged to contact the Department of Consumer Protection at dcp.frauds @ct.gov or call 1-800-842-2649. To avoid being defrauded by bogus invoice scams, the Department suggests that organizations:
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.