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It means that the many thousands of victims they have hounded for money over the years – including countless art and antiques dealers – have a chance to put an end to their misery.

The breakthrough came in February, when Construct Data signed a far-reaching settlement following a case before the Austrian courts. In it they undertook to cease mailing misleading contracts to European Union countries, Switzerland and countries affiliated to the EU. They also agreed to cancel their demands for money against
companies who signed up for their advertising services in error and dispute the contracts. Importantly, the settlement does not protect businesses in the United States.

Construct Data agreed to the settlement after the Schutzverband gegen unlauteren Wettbewerb, who represent Austrian commercial interests in relation to unfair competition, launched a court action against them at the beginning of last year.

Construct Data had initially argued that the Schutzverband only represented Austrian interests and so could not act on behalf of companies outside of the country.

However, the Schutzverband counter-argued that Construct Data’s activities were so damaging to Austria’s reputation as to constitute a cause for concern to all Austrian businesses. When this counter-argument won through, Construct Data agreed to the out-of-court settlement.

By doing so, the firm avoid being subjected to a definitive court ruling on their behaviour, but the settlement effectively prevents them from pursuing debts in the countries named above.

StopECG, the online campaign group lobbying against Construct Data and other scam guides, have warned that the firm are now claiming to victims that the settlement holds no significance. However, the agreement they have signed is clear and binding.