Be Aware – Latest Scam Targetting Small Businesses

December 3, 2013   //   No Comments

Many small businesses have fallen prey to this new scam.  Find out more and protect your company.

The scenario

A gentleman phones claiming to be a court officer, (a particular High Court may be mentioned), to let you know that your case is about to be heard by Lord High Justice Such and such. As you’re not represented, he takes it that you’re not defending the Writ taken out by Business Directories Ltd for non payment and breach of contract.  In a different variation, the alleged Writ has been taken out by Google for non payment of subscriptions. When you inform him of your incredulity of the existence of this company and or debt, he then tries to “Help you” by stating that as a court official he cannot stop this case going forward, but if you contact a Mr Taylor, debt collections manager for business directories, he is the only person who can stop the proceedings.

The court officer “recommends” option 13, which will delay proceedings for 28 days and give you a chance to defend the case. If you pay this money into ‘escrow’ the court will hold the funds and award them to the ultimate victor in the case. He “thinks you’ve got a good case and the company is just trying it on”. So you’ll obviously win the case and get your money back plus costs. However, we are aware that there is no court in the country, Scotland or England/Wales who will entertain this ‘escrow’ function. Be warned, these guys are great actors and put you under immense pressure of time, as the case is about to move forward and, once won, cannot be appealed.

According to “fraudaction” and Police Scotland, these guys target small/medium companies who have reputations to protect and have been pretty successful with this scam. If you were to take option 13, after the money has been deposited, it’s transferred immediately and the account closed.

Please advise SAIF of any scams you maybe aware of, enabling us to warn members accordingly.

What to do

The best tactic for dealing with this gent or similar ones from DRS, Doorstep Collections et al, is to very calmly, with pauses whilst writing down the answers, take control of the conversation, ask his name, the name of his company, the number he is calling from, the HQ address and phone number of his company, the name of the court he works for and the details of the creditor. If he hasn’t already panicked by then, then tell him you need these details for the fraud squad to add to their list. He puts the phone down pretty sharpish when they are mentioned!

The callers are convincing and there are more and more of them operating. A recent case referred to the police showed, after some police database trawling, that some of them are linked to scam publishing companies, so it’s also best to never agree or discuss any form of advertising over the phone.