5 Different Scams That Target Small Businesses

The day I got my LLC approved, I was excited, and the scammers emerged from the cracks. Every industry just about has its bottom-feeders, but owning a small business has opened my eyes to new scammer tactics that I would never wish on anyone. Thankfully, I have not fallen for any of these scams, but they happen almost daily. I wanted to bring some awareness to this epidemic.


First, it is essential to know the different types of scams. Here are the definitions of the terms.

  • Phishing - targets consumers by sending them an e-mail that appears to be from a well-known source. Ex: banks, retail stores, internet, and cell phone providers.
  • Mail Fraud - You get letters that look promising but are fake. Ex: prizes and sweepstakes winning. (There are some more specific to businesses, so keep reading)
  • Imposter scams: someone is calling or messaging you pretending to be someone else. Ex: IRS, government agency
  • Fraudulent Service Offerings - scammers are representing themselves as legitimate companies offering business services online. Ex: office supplies, branding, website services

Find more common scams from these resources:





Using the terms featured above, here are 5 examples of a scam that small businesses get daily, some scarily convincing and the most common to fall for.


5 LLC Mail Fraud Scams

Once I became an LLC, I was so excited that the hobby I had been practicing for four to five years was becoming a business. I did not realize the floodgates that would open once you became a legitimate business for scammers. After I was approved by the state, not even 3 days later, I received some mail that I needed to pay:

  1. $100 for a workman comp poster/Labor Law Compliance Notice (you can get these free online)
  2. $250 for my ein (you get that for free immediately when you have applied for your LLC online)

These letters to a new business that knows very little about the government/taxes, would be extremely convincing. I may need to be more seasoned, but I reread these, and a simple look-up on Google made me realize these are scams.

Here are some red flags to look out for:

🚩 They are asking for an absurd amount of money, and they want all of your card and personal information in one place (like the picture below)
🚩 They demand payment immediately, or there are “consequences.”
🚩 Grammar and spelling mistakes. Even in a world where Chat GPT could improve the scammer's English, it still shows up.

Picture by u/IGurinI on Reddit


4 Farmer’s Market Vendor Scams

These are scams more widely seen on Facebook if you are a vendor selling in-person in farmer and vintage/art markets. If you are in a localized group for vending in your local area, I am 100% sure you have imposters posing as the event manager for these markets trying to make you pay the fee when it isn’t them. They will either show up as a post, in the comments of a legit post, or they will reach out to you in a DM if you have commented on that legit post.

Red flags to look out for:

🚩 Check the Facebook profile/page that has posted or contacted you. If their account is hours to a day old, someone is most likely scamming you.
🚩 If they cannot answer any questions about the market, such as location or amenities other than how much it costs.
🚩 The grammar/spelling in the flyer is bad. Secondary to that is the design is terrible, but in my experience, almost all the flyers on Facebook posts for vendor markets are usually not good, but that doesn’t mean it’s a red flag… call it a beige one.


3 Social Media Account Scams

These are easy to spot because they happen in odd places. Suppose your business is set up as a Facebook page or an Instagram business account. In that case, you will often see phishing scams of people posing as Meta support saying that you are not within the policy and they will need you to do something about it by contacting them through the link that they apply. Usually, these messages come to you as a review on your page.

Red flags to look out for:

🚩 Poorly designed profile picture. Usually, it looks like an icon of a person with a headset on to look like they are customer support of some kind.
🚩 Spelling and Grammar are bad. You would think they’d utilize Chat GPT at this point but they don’t change their script at all.
🚩 Scary jargon that doesn’t make sense. All of these are examples in my screenshot below.

Photo by me


2 Etsy/Shopify Support

This is a similar phishing tactic to #3, but Etsy’s support scammers are so rampant I feel it is important to separate them. They often message you almost daily. I understand Etsy is doing little to nothing to stop these scammers, so it is best to bring awareness so no one freaks out. Shopify happens less to me, but I’ve made it a bit harder for them to contact me. If you have Shopify’s messaging app, you are going to get a huge chunk of these. I actually uninstalled my app and got rid of a contact form on my website because the harassment from scammers was just as bad as when I had an Etsy. 

Red flags to watch out for:

🚩 Spelling/Grammar is bad
🚩 Scary jargon that has harsh consequences if you don’t do anything about it
🚩 They require your immediate attention and need to act fast

1 The Infamous “Experts” 🙄

As a business owner, I am extremely annoyed by having to write this, and if you are a seasoned owner, I know you are right there with me. (Trauma-bonding, am I right, y’all?) This is an extremely obvious fraudulent service offering activity. They often offer their “service” to you as a “Shopify Expert” to help you increase your sales. These “experts” show up in many different ways to you. They’ll first show up in your social media in your DMs, email, and contact form if you have one asking if you would like to increase your sales. Yeah, we all want to increase our sales, but they are merely trying to sell you their course or offer to help you with your store directly when, in reality, they just want you to pay upfront for something and just not offer you a service and just take your money. Other ways they’ll contact you in your DMs is to act like a customer, asking odd but sometimes genuine questions from a customer like “How long will it take to ship?” or they’ll just say in their email, “New customer question,” and then when you bite they’ll ask “Do you want feedback on your website?” These people are a genuine waste of space and time of my attention. As business owners, time is money, and we don’t have time to deal with these people. Simply just block them or delete their message.

Here are some red flags:

🚩 Bad grammar/spelling

🚩 Brag about how much they’ve helped their “clients” make

🚩 They contact you… If they were a real “expert,” you’d be looking for them, not the other way around. 

Photo by me


What other scams have you run into as a business owner? Share them in the comments below!

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