A Whangarei businessman who received a false bill for a trademark he registered two years ago is urging other business owners to be aware of the scams.

Sportsman's Choice Northland Kayaks owner John Waldron opened his letterbox on Friday to find a hefty bill from the International Data Base Of Registered Trade Marks for the trademark 'kayakzone' which he had registered in 2013.

"Some trademark register decided I owed $1638 and I thought 'that's not quite right' so I rang the number and got their engaged signal," Mr Waldron said.

He said the bill set off alarm bells so he found the original email from the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ), who he had registered kayakzone with, and contacted them. "She said to me 'is it for $1638?' and I said 'yes' and she said they had a warning on their website about these scams," he said.


The false invoice listed a Wellington address, a phone number which does not work and an ANZ account to transfer money into. A template of the false invoice is listed as a scam on the IPONZ website along with several other similar scams. An IPONZ spokesman said owners of intellectual property rights should be cautious if they receive letters from unfamiliar organisations, especially letters requesting payment for unsolicited services.

The invoice looked legitimate but he had been in the job long enough to know it was a scam, Mr Waldron said. He said he was worried people who did not pay too much attention to their bills, or people who were new to the job, might not be aware it was a scam.

"When I first started out I received a lot of false bills for advertising, I haven't received anything like this for years. It doesn't concern me because I took one look at it and knew it was bogus, it was obviously a scam. I thought lucky I'm not rolling in cash because I might have just paid it, that's what you do, you get your bills and you pay them."

He has handed the invoice to police.