Fake NH Small Business websites

As the holiday shopping season began, the state issued a warning about fake websites posing as legitimate New Hampshire small businesses.

Attorney General John Formella said the fake websites would offer items for sale at a deep discount and the option to contact the “sales department” to make a purchase via wire transfer.

“Victims of fraud are at high risk of losing their money as scammers are often located overseas,” Formella said in a statement.

In New Hampshire, these scams have been found in the firearms industry and in the sale of heavy equipment.

Websites often look complete with social media pages claiming to be affiliated with a legitimate company. Scammers sometimes buy ads to direct you to their website.

When asked questions, scammers can often provide fake invoices, contracts, logos, and contact information to give the impression of legitimacy.

The scammers also use fake email addresses to verify their website with groups like the Better Business Bureau, Chambers of Commerce, and Show Me Local.

Check first

Formella suggested checking sellers and websites before committing to a sale by asking for references. He also offered other suggestions to avoid fraudulent websites:

  • Watch out for too good to be true offers. A high discount could be a sign that a scammer is trying to lure you.
  • If an offer seems too good to be true, ask the seller probing questions as to why the product is discounted.
  • Ask to speak to the seller over the phone. Ask detailed questions and thoroughly vet a seller before deciding to purchase the product.
  • Ask for references who can verify the legitimacy of the seller and contact those references.
  • Confirm that the seller’s contact information, including but not limited to email addresses, phone numbers, and physical addresses, is consistent across platforms. If there are multiple websites listing different phone numbers, email addresses, or other information, be aware that some of the information may be fraudulent.
  • Visit the seller if possible. It’s always best to see a product and meet a seller in person before committing to a purchase.
  • Check with local law enforcement or the district attorney’s office to see if any complaints have been filed against the seller.
  • Don’t shop if a seller insists you pay by bank transfer or gift card.
  • Don’t transfer money to someone you don’t know or couldn’t verify.

Attempted fraud can be reported to your local police or the Attorney General’s Office for Consumer and Antitrust at doj.nh.gov or by calling the Consumer Helpline at 603-271-3641.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at [email protected] or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNH

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