Hawaii schools report false billing of text books sales

Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau has begun to receive complaints against Scholastic School Supply.

The tactics employed by the company are similar to the well-known “Yellow Pages Scam,” a business-to-business operation that surfaced in 2013, and bilked more than $14 million from small businesses and churches before being halted at the request of the Federal Trade Commission.

School administrators reaching out to Hawaii’s BBB allege that the operation is sending false invoices to schools throughout the state in amounts exceeding $500 for a bulk purchase of text books that were never requested or received.

“The Hawaii State Department of Education is aware of the scam involving false invoices and our schools have been alerted to report incidents to the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs,” DOE communications director Donalyn Dela Cruz said in a statement. “All DOE schools are trained on detecting potential scams and given guidance on how to manage and report fraudulent activities. The DOE also has financial controls in place that prevent payments from being processed for fictitious statements. Additionally, Scholastic School Supply is not on our approved vendor list.”

The only contact information available on the invoices is an email address which educators report does not respond to messages, a phone number which routes to a series of voicemail boxes and mail drop addresses in either Sewell, N.J., or Las Vegas, Nev. Although the entity lists addresses in New Jersey and Nevada on its invoicing, BBB has been unable to locate any corporation filings, business licensing, or otherwise required business documentation for the company in either state to substantiate a physical location.

Hawaii’s BBB has received three complaints from local schools to date. The BBB in Nevada has received a total of 51 complaints from consumers located in 22 states throughout the country and over 2,300 inquiries about Scholastic School Supply.

The Better Business Bureau is urging schools to not pay the invoice, but instead to contact BBB and the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357 www.ftc.gov.

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