Scams reveal pubs' openness to fraud

Related tags Trading standards Business Marketing

A trading standards boss has called for pubs to get more protection against scammers who claim to be selling ads in magazines for emergency services....

A trading standards boss has called for pubs to get more protection against scammers who claim to be selling ads in magazines for emergency services.

About 30 bogus companies operate at any one time and can make millions by duping businesses, according to John Malone, trading standards manager at Wirral Metropoli-tan Borough Council.

The MA has again been re-ceiving calls about scammers who cold-call pubs claiming to be selling ads in emergency services publications.

Hosts have complained about receiving demands for payment when they have not agreed to take ads. Malone said some firms use debt collectors - often the scammers themselves - to retrieve money they say is owed.

Some of the fraudsters have been wound-up by the Department of Trade & Industry but Malone said cases are difficult to prove because the telephone conversations are not recorded.

He called for new powers to protect businesses against scammers.

Unlike consumers, businesses can not take civil action using the Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations.

These allow trading standards to take an injunction in court against companies that make false claims about

services they provide.

Malone said: "When it comes to protecting small businesses by looking at legislation and offering support, they [Government] don't seem to want to know."

Bogus ad scams

Four sister companies were wound up by the DTI last year after making over £2m in two years conning businesses into buying ad space in publications with "virtually no circulation".

Staff from three

companies - McAllister Stone, Cavendish Black and Hamilton Black - conned

businesses into buying ad space in mags supposedly read by off-duty emergency service workers with titles such as Fallout and On Call.

Telesales staff claimed circulation of 250,000 but Manchester High Court heard only 200 copies of each title were distributed.

Meanwhile, sister firm the Debt Enforcement Agency "aggressively chased

payment" with "threatening letters" and visits.

All four companies were controlled by brothers Stephen and Tony Williams.

More sham publications exposed

Police calendars and drug education brochures are among the publicationsfor which cold-callers have been claiming to be selling ads.

Licensee Thorleif Mowinckel was contacted by a salesman who claimed he was selling ads for calendars advising on drug protection on behalf of South Wales Police. The caller asked

for his email and postal address to send information, but

Mowinckel, of the Ashgrove Inn, Coelbren, Powys, hung-up.

Devon host Richard Hartley was called by a salesman saying he was selling ads on behalf of a brochure on drugs education for schools. The salesman asked for Hartley's bank details but the licensee of the Culmvally Inn, Culmstock, refused.

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