Small Business Crimes and Scams - Free Enterprise
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A handful of businesses have begun receiving "notices of extortion" demanding that the owners pay the senders in Bitcoin to avoid bad online reviews.

For some reason, the scam seems to be targeting pizzerias around the United States, including Manchester, New Hampshire-based 900 Degrees Neapolitan Pizzeria. General Manager Michelle Doucette told the New Hampshire Business Review she thought it was a joke and had to ask what a Bitcoin was.

Whether or not you've received a similar extortion letter, here are three things business owners should know:

The heart-breaking story of a 3-year-old girl with severe facial scars being kicked out of a KFC may be a hoax, according to the restaurant chain. But the girl's family insists the story is real.

As you may recall, the girl was mauled by a pit bull and suffered facial injuries including the loss of one eye; she was allegedly asked to leave a KFC in Jackson, Mississippi, because her injuries were scaring customers. The story went viral and led to more than $135,000 in online donations for the girl's recovery, including a $30,000 pledge from KFC.

But as the Laurel Leader-Call reports, two investigations by KFC failed to confirm the family's story.

Hoax or not, here are three lessons that your business can learn from the controversy:

A company called Corporate Records Service is drawing the ire of consumer protection watchdogs in several states for mailing deceptive solicitations to businesses that officials say are intended to resemble government documents.

Indiana's Director of Consumer Protections calls it a "scam." As she told Lexington, Kentucky's WKYT-TV, Indiana is one of nearly a dozen states to be hit by Corporate Records Service's document deception.

What should small business owners look out for?

It's National Police Week in the United States. And though no business owner ever wants to have to call the police because they've been a victim of a crime -- especially a crime as serious as armed robbery -- it's a good idea to know what do if you are.

As a few recent incidents have shown, some business owners and employees choose to take matters into their own hands when confronted by armed robbers. But that's typically not what law-enforcement experts recommend.

Here are 10 tips for what you should do during and after an armed robbery, as suggested by police departments across America:

A newly discovered security flaw called "Heartbleed" has many businesses scrambling to beef up their online security.

The Heartbleed flaw affects websites that use a security software called OpenSSL to protect users' data and passwords. As The Washington Post explains, sites vulnerable to the flaw are like doors with defective locks. No matter how much consumers change their passwords, if the "lock" is broken, user data is vulnerable.

So what does your business need to know about the Heartbleed flaw?

Business owners beware: A website domain-name registration scam is catching some entrepreneurs off-guard.

But the BBB says it's easy to protect yourself from this scam, once you know how to spot it.

How can business owners avoid buying domain names from scammers?

Is It Legal to Bet on the Oscars at Work?

Are you and your colleagues thinking about throwing down some cash by the water cooler to bet on the Oscars?

You might think placing a bet on "12 Years a Slave" for "Best Picture" would be a nice way to cheer on an excellent frontrunner, liven up your work day, and make a few extra bucks.

But is it actually legal to bet on the Oscars at work?

Yelp Defamation Lawsuit Ends in a Draw

A closely followed Yelp lawsuit in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., didn't end with a clear winner. A jury found that a homeowner had indeed defamed a contractor by writing scathing reviews on Yelp and Angie's List.

But then came the surprising twist: Jurors determined the contractor, in turn, had also defamed the customer by responding to the customer's comments with accusations of his own, reports The Washington Post.

Yelp defamation lawsuits are becoming a reality for customers and business owners alike. But as this case reveals, it's tough to predict who will reign victorious in such a suit.

After Target Hack, 3 Tips for Vendor Cybersecurity

Following Target's massive data breach, everyone wanted to know how it happened. We may now have an answer. It seems the Target hackers breached the chain's security systems by first using electronic credentials stolen from a vendor, The Wall Street Journal reports.

It's a cautionary tale for small business owners: Create a robust security system that extends to vendors and other interconnected business relations, or else your business could be vulnerable to a similar attack.

Here are three tips for vendor cybersecurity:

What Can Businesses Do to Stop Human Trafficking?

January 11 is Human Trafficking Awareness Day. And though it's a global issue, small businesses in the United States may indeed have a role to play in the effort to stop human trafficking.

While some may only associate human trafficking with sexual slavery, the term actually applies to all people who are harbored or recruited to perform labor through force, fraud, or coercion, as U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement explains.

Companies are becoming more aware of trafficked people in the workplace and can take active steps to stop human trafficking.