Scam guides have reared their head again, targeting dealers in a bid to extort large sums of money for useless advertising.
A blight on business for the past 15
years or more, the latest attempt to con the trade comes from
Germany under the name UK Trade & Economy Services.
As ATG readers will know from the
countless warnings we have issued on these pages over the years,
members of the trade receive forms through the post appearing to
ask them to confirm their details for a free listing, but actually
attempting to con them into signing up for expensive, pointless and
unwanted advertising. Those who sign are then subjected to months -
and sometimes years - of threats and demands for money.
In broken English, the letter headed
up UK Trade & Economy Services is actually from TVV Tele
Verzeichnis Verlag GmbH, a Hamburg-based operation, which asks the
recipient to "check the data of your company", inviting them to
correct the details for a basic data entry into their UK Corporate
Portal at no cost.
The letter goes on to invite the
recipient to sign off the enclosed form if they want to "go beyond
the basic data entry". Although the letter refers to costs at this
stage, the broken English does not make it clear who bears
The form, which bears a close
resemblance to those issued by scam guides tackled by the Spanish
and Swiss authorities, carries small print detailing costs of £797
annually for a single advertisement. The small print goes on to
state that those who sign will be liable for at least four years
and more than £3000.
In more than a decade of reporting
this issue, ATG have yet to hear of a victim successfully
cancelling either the original or extended order, even when they
have tried to do so. What we have learnt is that the perpetrators
tend to focus their attention on, and efforts to extract money
from, anyone who reacts to their demands in any way.
TVV Tele Verzeichnis Verlag GmbH, who
stipulate that German law applies to the order, further reserve the
right "to take legal action at the general place of jurisdiction of
the customer" and add another clause allowing themselves to
increase their charges.
The one crumb of comfort for those who
have fallen foul of the forms is that in all the years that we have
been dealing with this issue, we have yet to hear of anyone being
taken to court by any of the scam companies for
Such has been the problem with scam guides
that websites such as stopecg.org have been set up in the past to
campaign against them.
The European Commission has consulted
widely on the issue with a view to introducing legislation to