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The importance of reporting fraud

bp fraud

There’s no getting around it: being swindled is humiliating. But don’t let the humiliation stop you from reporting fraud.

“I’ve worked in the BBB system for over 30 years and can assure you that people of all types can be victimized,” says Richard Copelan, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties in California.

“There are new scams being invented every day, and fraudsters constantly find new and innovative ways to relieve people of their hard-earned money.”

When fraudulent behavior does occur, Copelan points out, “communication is the key. We always recommend that people who have been victimized by an offer through the internet, particularly if the origin of the offer is unknown, contact the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.” Fraud should always be reported to the Better Business Bureau, and if applicable, local law enforcement agencies.

For the produce industry specifically, Copelan mentions trade organizations, “which hopefully include some sort of mechanism wherein you can warn each other about current fraud that’s occurring.” And, of course, there’s Blue Book Services.

You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man
Film buffs will remember You Can’t Cheat an Honest Man as a W.C. Fields movie from 1939, but it’s also a piece of proverbial wisdom. Many of the biggest scams trap people who want to beat the system. Another example from the film vaults is The Sting, a 1973 Oscar winner about an elaborate con on a compulsive gambler who wanted to cheat on the horses.

There are also smaller temptations to dishonesty—for example, offers to change negative online reviews of a product or service or boost scores on rating sites. The FTC warns, “posting fake reviews is illegal. FTC guidelines say endorsements—including reviews—must reflect the honest opinions and experiences of the endorser.”

All in all, honesty is not only the best policy, but the easiest one. Every business needs to do its part.

This is a multi-part feature adapted from a Credit & Finance article in the May/June 2020 issue of Produce Blueprints.


Richard Smoley, editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 11 books.