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Bristol businesses targeted for scams flooding the city

Bristol businesses are being targeted in a number of scams which are flooding the city at present.

Bristol City Council trading Standards are warning businesses to be on the alert for invoices from the following.

Slom Solution Ltd, operating from a UK mailbox address but based probably in Latvia.

The company is sending out deliberately misleading invoices implying that advertising on a web-based directory – www.britishintheweb.co.uk – has been ordered, and seeking payment of £298.68.

There have also been almost identical invoices from a company called MAVA Concepts Ltd. The second is a well documented trade directory scam where a company based apparently in Spain or Holland sends a business a document, unsolicited, inviting them to update their business contact details If the owner corrects these details, sign the form and sends it back they get an invoice demanding payment of thousands of Euros for inclusion in their European Directory.

Contract terms are stated on the document but these can be easily confused and it is easy to sign into a very expensive contract. This scam has hit many businesses and professionals in the last few years and has many guises including the EU Company Directory, Euro Business Guide, European City Guide, World Business Directory, EU Business Services Ltd Businesses are also warned to be wary of letters received from Expo Guide.

The letters offer free listing in a trade directory and at Trade Shows but there are concealed charges. This may result in fees in excess of 1000 euros. Finally another offer to watch out for comes from the ‘Intellectual Property Agency Ltd’ .

“This is a particularly formal looking quasi legal document with regard to trademarks. The form shows a graphic representation of the business’ trademark, trademark number and ADP number and asks people to renew the trademark in question for a renewal fee, which is far higher than the fee charged by the official trademark registrar the IPO.

“The company concerned has a very official looking website and people need to read the small print extremely careful to realise that it has no relationship with the Intellectual Property Office . The Intellectual Property Office has issued a warning regarding misleading invoices/invitations for renewal” said Phil Parkyn, principal trading standards officer for Bristol City Council.

“Small businesses can lose money and also valuable time in dealing with scams like these. Businesses are reminded to check all invoices and invitations for advertising carefully, especially if they are unsolicited. If they are unsure about the paperwork give us a ring”. he said.

Cllr Guy Poultney, Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods said: “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy in Bristol, and these scams are exploiting the huge pressure they’re under at the moment. They hope they’ll not have time to check these requests for payment or offers of advertising, and will either pay these fake invoices automatically or sign into expensive contracts without realising it. If businesses are unfortunate enough to have signed into these agreements they should contact their local Trading Standards for advice”.

Editors note: Businesses are advised to report incidents of these and any other scams to Action Fraud http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/report_fraud

If members of the media wish to speak to a business who has received one of these scam communications please contact Phil Parkyn 01179223689

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