DETI Press Release "Don't Fall for the bogus Yellow Pages Invoice Scam"
The warning comes during Scams Awareness Month, when TSS revealed that Northern Ireland consumers and businesses lose over £100million every year on bogus publishing, lotteries, prize draws, and other scams.
The scammers seek to mislead 'Yell' customers into signing up to fake advertising contracts which sometimes result in repeated requests for payment by phone. Trading Standards and the PSNI are also concerned that some people may be duped into thinking they are taking out Yell advertising or renewing existing advertising programmes.
Bogus order forms are sent by e-mail or fax and contain lookalike 'Yellow Pages' branding. Customers who return the form subsequently receive invoices and requests for payment.
Stephen Thompson, Trading Standards Area Inspector, said: "These misleading faxes, emails and websites can look like the genuine article, but have nothing to do with the real Yellow Pages. In some cases, customers have received threatening telephone calls and in other instances, scammers have set up copycat websites resembling Yell.com."
"The scams are sophisticated and run by complex overseas networks. 'Yell' customers should be particularly alert to any correspondence they receive containing contact, or bank account details in Holland or Germany. Anyone receiving contact from these traders or similar should ignore any order forms and should not pay any invoices."
"I would urge Northern Ireland businesses if they have any doubts at all to contact our Consumerline on 0845 600 6262 or 028 9025 3900 or alternatively log onto the Consumerline website at http://www.consumerline.org."
A spokesperson for the PSNI Organised Crime Branch advised companies to check documents carefully to avoid being tricked: "Criminals in Northern Ireland will do everything they can do fool you into believing they are genuine. It is vitally important that businesses check documentation, especially any invoices or other types of demands for payment. If you receive something that you suspect is not genuine, please report it to your local police or on 0845 600 8000 or contact Trading Standards Consumerline."