UNC paid $85,690 in 2014 to a software development company that did not actually exist, according to a report published in the Greeley Tribune on Thursday.
The software developer, Bossage, Inc., had registered articles of incorporation in Delaware, but no additional paperwork had been filed, according to the Tribune. Additionally, the firm claimed to have offices in both New York and California, and to have done business with the University of New Mexico and New York University. The company was registered in neither state, and the two universities said that they had no record of ever doing business with Bossage, the Tribune’s story said. An address of a supposed office in New York City did not exist.
Bossage’s website is currently only a single page, saying simply, “This website is under construction.”
The application for a contract filed by Bossage in 2014 listed UNM and NYU as references, but officials at the University of Northern Colorado do not always do reference checks when considering contract applications, according to a statement provided by UNC.
The firm was hired to create a pair of mobile and web apps to be used by the Audiology and Speech-Language Sciences department, aimed to help “connect the dots” between theory and practice, according to the Tribune’s report.
UNC made a sizeable down payment of $40,590 after the proposal was granted to Bossage. It also continued to make monthly payments to the firm through the summer of 2015, according to the Tribune. It was only then that the university became suspicious, given the lack of progress the firm had shown. Eventually deciding, based off of the opinion of another software development firm, that the firm was not who it claimed to be, UNC officials cancelled their contract in October of 2015.
UNC will not seek restitution against Bossage, as the cost of doing so would outweigh the expected benefits, according to the statement.
In addition, the incident has prompted the university to make changes in their purchasing process. These changes will include verifying through the IRS that the company has a valid tax ID, running automated checks nightly to see if contracted firms have been found in violation of state or federal laws, and by having all proposed software purchases reviewed by UNC’s department of Information Management & Technology.