There are numerous business directories and usually there is a small sum to pay for inclusion. Some offer free inclusion for a basic entry then tempt you with a higher profile entry for a fee.
This is all straightforward and legal.
However, some scammers offer business directory listings with nasty hidden costs.
Recent scam emails claim to offer an entry in the EU Business Register, based in the Netherlands.
The messages look legitimate and tempt people to fill in the attached PDF of questions and expect a free entry in the directory.
The messages even include the line “Updating is free of charge”.
The scam is hidden in the very small print at the bottom of the PDF document where it says “The signing of this document represents the acceptance of … I hereby order a subscription with … for three years. The price per year is Euro 995. The subscription will be automatically extended each year for another year….”
Once they get the form back, the invoices start to arrive and they use heavy pressure and threats to make people pay.
However, the contract is not valid as it is obviously designed to con people.
Always make sure to read the small print on any document before signing.
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Janet seldom drove her car into London, but on this occasion needed to and at some point crossed into the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) and hence would have to make a payment.
Later, a quick Google on her computer gave her the website and she entered her details and paid for the day’s journey into the ULEZ.
That evening, she did think about the payment and that £19.99 seemed a strange figure and she checked online – the correct figure due was £12.50, so why had she been charged £19.99 instead?
She still had the website window open and everything looked correct except for that figure. Checking again – it was clear it was a fraud. Scammers had setup a fake website that mimicked the real one and had bought Google advertising to get their fake website to the top of the Google listing for Ultra Low Emission Zone
Janet reported the fake website to Transport for London who suggested she report it to Action Fraud, which she did, and to her credit card company.
It is possible she will get the payment back from the credit card company but days later a penalty notice for £80 arrived for failure to pay the ULEZ fee. She complained to Transport for London but as far as they are concerned, she hadn’t paid the fee therefore she has to pay the penalty. Janet has appealed against the penalty notice.
An unfortunate mistake by Janet cost her £19.99 paid to scammers but seems it will cost her a further £80.
Sometimes these scams have far worse consequences as the scammers get hold of your confidential information and sell it to other scammers who may take out loans in your name or make other use of your online identity.
Do not trust the top website on a Google search to be the official one – check carefully.
Have you been caught out by this scam – if so, do let me know, by email.
Google Hangouts is messaging, video chat, and VOIP features. It replaced three messaging products – Google Talk, Google+ Messenger and Hangouts. Google has announced that it will be for replaced sometime in 2020.
Unfortunately, Google Hangouts can attract undesirables, because users are largely untraceable.
Sometimes, people with malicious intent ask you to use Hangouts because you cannot trace them. Hangouts provides them with a way to hide and be in control. If someone you just met online wants to switch to Hangouts for conversations, then be careful as they may be a scammer engaging in conversation as a prelude to the scam.
If you get an invite that seems suspicious, you can block and report that user by clicking on “reject” on the invite.
The scammers start by creating false profiles, typically on social media sites, dating sites etc. They find their victims and then correspond with a lot of people simultaneously using a pre-arranged script. They may ask for money for a visa or tell you a sob story about being mugged or sick or have a dying relative – anything to get money from you.
These are standard scammer tactics – do not be fooled.
Be careful on Google Hangouts.
If you have any experiences with scammers on Hangouts – do let me know, by email.
There is a marriage allowance worth £250 that can be claimed from HMRC each year.
Marriage Allowance Limited has taken to sending out letters and emails to people advising them to get this rebate and they will do it for you. What they don’t tell people is that although the claim is free, the company charges 42% plus a processing fee and that doesn’t leave much of the rebate remaining to actually get to the tax payer.
Their website is designed to make people believe it is HMRC.
This activity is legal as they don’t explicitly claim to be from HMRC and the company runs similar operations targeting other tax allowances.
As always, read messages carefully to see who they are actually from, be careful with Google searches not to just pick the top of the list in case it’s an advert and the official site you want is lower down the list.
There are many fake websites able to do eCommerce I.e. take money from you for products even if the products don’t exist.
But a recent set of emails are the first ones offering to create a store for you from scratch and to reach £10,000 in sales within 50 days.
That is an odd combination of promises. Do they really build eCommerce websites for people and ensure plenty of customers?
Seems very unlikely. More likely is that the entire thing is jut a con – no website, no eCommerce and no sales.
The email is from a Gmail address rather than a company address, the email is sent out to random people, the grammar is terrible, there are many text words used rather than correct English (e.g. plz instead of please) and the whole thing is very amateurish.
It’s a con.
If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-waster do let me know, by email.