Alert! Be Careful of Fake Purchase Orders!

Have you ever received a fake purchase order? I received one a few days ago and I thought I should write this blog to alert others. Following are the details:

We received a proposal request on our website from The University of California purchasing group and it was sent to me to respond. It seemed legitimate to me so I did as I always do. I called the name and phone number on the request and asked a few questions then submitted the proposal. The phone call seemed a little odd to me because the person seemed uncomfortable speaking to me. The proposal was for ten large Cisco switches; one for each of their ten branches. I suspect many of the requests we receive for generic products are sent to several companies just to check prices so I did not spend a lot of time on it.

Within a few minutes I received an email response with no questions; just a statement requesting 30 day terms. I had no problem giving The University of California 30 day terms so I returned a response that included the terms. Also, I did not question the quick response because I was told they needed them very quickly.

The next day I received an official looking purchase order from supposedly an accountant at the university. At that point two things concerned me. First, it all seemed a little too easy. I know The University of California has a strict procedure they follow to approve every vendor. I just assumed they did not do that because they needed this order very quickly and it was a small order. Second, they wanted all the switches shipped next day to an address near Chicago instead of to each branch in California. The address included a name and phone number so I called that person. The person there said they did service work for the University and they would deliver and install them.

Now I was suspicious so I got on The University of California’s website to do some research. On one of the secondary pages I found a tab that read “Alert”. I opened it and read a report that stated there had been some cases reported of fraudulent purchase orders being received by their suppliers and they gave an email address to send the purchase order to be verified. I sent them the order and they stated it was fraudulent. I was very happy I did not ship anything before checking. Since then I have received two emails wanting to know when we were shipping the products.

Please pass this on to others you know that could be affected.


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