Archive for Scam or Not

Is ‘Alex Lesley’ of ICAA Cyprus Ltd demanding money for Expo Guide?

If someone called ‘Alex Lesley’ from ICAA Cyprus Ltd contacts you demanding money on behalf of Expo Guide…

… you might like to read this post and the hundreds of comments before you do anything.

You’ve probably arrived at this post because you’ve received a threatening demand for money from a ‘debt collection’ company called ICAA Ltd who claim to be working for Expo Guide, an online directory business that’s well known for tricking people into signing for services they don’t want. These people no doubt have been bullying you for some time with their demands (reminding you that it’s your fault for not checking the small print). Now they’re trying to make you think they can take you to court to force you to pay.

I’ve been researching this scam for a long time and I’ve never found a single company that has reported being taken to court by Expo Guide or ICAA. That should tell you something, particularly since they hook in tens of thousands of people a year with this scam. Surely they must have taken at least ONE to court in all this time if they could, right? Exactly.

Make sure to read the hundreds of comments from people all over the world who feel they’ve been deliberately misled by scammers ‘Expo Guide’ then make up your mind whether you think that you want to take ‘Alex Lesley’ and ICAA Ltd seriously.

Note to ICAA: You know as well as I do that there’s nothing libellous or defamatory about reproducing an email you send to your victims.

Dear xxx xxxxx,

ICAA inform you that the case against xxx x xx xxxx x x x has been referred to our legal department to proceed with further action to recover the monies owed to our client. I have informed our Senior Legal Advisor that you have posted my full name and e-mail address on the anti-EXPO Guide forum. Whilst you are free to express your opinions along with others not trained in legal matters, I sincerely advise you to remove my name as you have no right to publish my name in material of such nature, unless you have solid evidence that your opinions are indeed, fact.

By close of business next week, our legal department will refer this case to an attorney to proceed with the necessary steps to recover the monies owed to our client. ICAA are a third party mediator who were passed this case in order to try to assist both parties in reaching a fair compromise. Contrary to comments of those on the forum, we gain no pleasure in having to chase people for their debts.

Our job is difficult enough at the best of times, without individuals bad mouthing us and then publishing our names on public forums. I have been neither rude or aggressive in my correspondence to you. Despite the nature of my job, I still believe in treating people with respect. Kindly show me the same level respect and remove my name from your post.

With regards,

Alex Lesley

Senior Credit Manager

INTERNATIONAL CREDIT ASSESSMENT AGENCY by ICAA Ltd.

187A Leontiou Str., Tsacon Court,

4th Floor 3020 Limassol,

Cyprus P.O. Box 53397

3302 Limassol,

Cyprus Tel : +357 25 270 666, Fax: +357 25 270 777

Email: al@icaacy.com

Website: www.icaacy.com

Vital Beauty: scam or not? You decide…

Is Vital Beauty ‘prize’ promotion a scam?

As always, you the great Googling public will decide. I’ll just give you some space to air your views. Please feel free to leave a comment.

Vital Beauty sells cosmetics but misleads people into thinking they’ve won money as a way of drawing them into it’s marketing trap. It’s been in trouble before with OFT before and – like our other scammy friends McIntyre and Dodd Marketing Ltd – were ordered to stop misleading customers.

But, just like the recent judgment against M&D, this High Court ruling seems to have made little or no difference – judging by the phone call I got from a very concerned Mr C from Romsey. According to him, Vital Beauty has carried right on sending out these ‘prize promotions’ and he’s got a big bag of letters to prove it.  A quick Google search shows the company has been doing this for over 3 years now. Penman and Sommerlad at the Mirror have been reporting on this for a while. This TV news item will tell you pretty much all you need to know about Vital Beauty.

This country is awash with scams aimed at vulnerable people and you can bet, in these tough times, it’s going to get worse. Given the total impotence of the law and bodies like OFT to control them, it really is no surprise.

Is Vital Beauty a scam? I know what I think but as always, I’ll leave it to you decide for yourself. When you’ve made up your mind, don’t forget to share your experience to help prevent other people from wasting their

For more information on ‘prize promotions’ scams visit the ‘thinkJessica’ website.

The Physicians Register: Scam or not? You decide….

Is the Physicians Register another misleading contract form scam?

As always, you the great Googling global public will decide.

Our aim is just to collect the experiences of ‘customers’ of this directory and let them speak for themselves. Why? to help you decide whether The Physicians Register is a scam or not.

The title ‘Physicians Register’ came to my attention the other day when a lady from a NHS PCT emailed me with some updates for her entry into some unspecified directory of GP surgeries. I emailed her back to first let her know that I don’t actually run such adirectory and second, ask whether or not she was expecting a ‘free’ listing in a directory such as TEMDI.

From her replies I learned that she had mailed back the form (“but I haven’t sent any money”) and was convinced that the reason she had emailed ME with amendments was because MY contact details “pop up on the Physicians Register website”.

As of today, I’ve not been able to find ‘The Physicians Register’ website – although it’s clear that the scam is at least on the radar of the Londonwide Local Medical Committees. Until this practice manager in question emails me back with the actual website she’s talking about, I’ll carry on trying to find out what she’s talking about. I suspect that, in fact, she’s fallen foul TEMDI – the ‘European Medical Directory’.

I also doubt that the people behind these directories (formerly ‘Novachannel AG’ and now ‘UNITED Directorios, Lda’) would put my contact details on their website since I’d do a pretty good job of dissuading any victim contacting me from paying them – lols. I think what’s happened is that this lady has searched ‘TEMDI’ and found my critical posts as no.2 in the search result (and the only entry to use the acronym TEMDI) and clicked on that, gone straight to my contact details.

It almost goes without saying that the most likely victims of this practice are those with the least online skills and the least ability to smell a very big, old hairy rat.

More to follow when we find out if ‘The Physicians Register’ is in fact TEMDI.

So.. if you’ve fallen foul of something called ‘The Physicians Register’ and found yourself on the receiving end of demands for nearly 3,000 euro – please use the comment function (below) to answer the following questions:

• Did you think you were getting a free listing?

• Do YOU think the Physicians Register is a scam?

The British Awards Council: scam or not? You decide

Is The British Awards Council prize claim ‘promotion’ another scam? As always, you decide..

But let our collection of comments about all McIntyre and Dodd Marketing Ltd‘s other recent rip-off promotions help you.

If you want to know about McIntyre and Dodd Marketing Ltd, click here.  You’ll see that this kind of promotion is their speciality – and they’re doing it as much and as fast as they can before the OFT manages to shut them down.

** WANT TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THESE PEOPLE?? Click HERE **

Since I’ve been tracking their rip-off promotions they’ve gone through several names – all designed to appear credible and worthwhile. They change the name as soon as the general public wakes up to the fact that this is a con. Community Awards Register was the first one I blogged about. Shortly afterwards came PDO Prize Distribution Office. Then there was NB: Notification Bureau. Now – probably speeded up by people like me blogging about these rip-offs – they’ve changed the name again this time to the grand (and trustworthy-sounding) ‘The British Awards Council’.

Please follow the links I’ve put here to see just how systematically exploitative this outfit is.  You’ll also see how lucrative this business is. The group of companies that’s behind this rip off is worth nearly £14m – of your money.

More importantly, read all the various ‘victim’ comments from ordinary, everyday people who have wasted their hard-earned money on these promotions and received little or nothing in return.

The British Awards Council: scam or not? You decide – and please feel free to share your experiences here to help others make up their minds too.

PDO Prize Distribution Office: Scam or not? You decide….

Prize Distribution Office letters: another MacIntyre and Dodd Marketing ‘offer’

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Yes, for just £9.00 in text charges, plus your network operator’s costs, plus £5.95 (that’s a minimum of £14.95) you could get either some (apparently  not very useful) vouchers or a bit of silver jewellery! Woo-hoo! Bargain!

This ‘offer’ comes in the form of a letter designed to make vulnerable (or greedy and foolish) people think they’ve won something – deceptive enough for the Office of Fair Trading to think it worth seeking an injunction to try to stop the company behind this ‘promotion’ (MacIntyre and Dodd Marketing) in the High Court.

And the Guardian thinks its pretty shabby too.

MacIntyre and Dodd have a track record of this kind of ‘offer’, most recently with their ‘Community Awards Register‘.  Spot the similarities?  Of course you do.

This kind of ‘promotion’ is big business – the PLC which owns MacIntyre and Dodd Marketing is valued at £13.5 millions of your pounds (see my earlier post about Community Awards Register).

Is this promotion legal? Sadly, until such times as the High Court decides otherwise, the answer is currently ‘yes’.

Scam or not? The OFT seems to think so.  Their case against MacIntyre and Dodd Marketing argues that the company tries to misconstrue what is in fact simply the sale of cheap goods as a prize draw, which it is not.

Whatever the outcome from the high court, one thing’s for sure: that MacIntyre and Dodd will continue to pump out these promotions so long as they’re legal.  Keep your eyes peeled!

Community Awards Register: Scam or not?

C.A.R Community Awards Register: Scam or not? You decide..

LATEST NEWS: Macintyre and Dodd Marketing is breaks law with ‘prize promotions’ says High Court Judge – Feb 2nd 2011

Well, finally.

The OFT has taken MacIntyre and Dodd to the High Court and finally, more than £13m of your money later, won a ruling that M&D (and other DM Plc companies operated by Mr. Adrian Williams and his various business partners) have acted unlawfully.

Read the BBC report in full here.

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Read on for the back story:

Scenario: Letter comes through addressed to you at your home address.  Oh, look, it seems you’ve won a  ‘Community Award’ – one of a range of tasty prizes.

All you have to do to claim your prize is call an expensive premium-rate phone number which (according to the paperwork) will cost you £9.00 plus your network charge for calling or texting that number.  Who knows how much that would be in addition?

I have a depressing feeling that this, like those moronic quizzes on daytime TV, is legal – so long as it delivers some prize to someone, somewhere.  After all, by calling a premium line number of your own free will, you’re clearly entering into the contract, right?  It’s just a form of ‘gaming’ isn’t it?

A quick bit of research leads me down a depressingly long rabbit hole.

Come with me on that jouney for a moment.

Click here to view map

The first thing we learn is that the company behind this is McIntyre & Dodd Marketing ltd whose postcode, incidentally, isn’t what they put on the mailout.

That postcode points to The Recycling People in Ross-on-Wye (right).

The correct postcode should of course be HR9 5PQ (according to an online business directory entry).  Sorry, no, it’s actually this field here, (according to the company’s own website).  Did I say there? I meant here (according to what looks like their own business entry in Google maps).  That’s a bit more like it.

Next we find that the Advertising Standards Authority ruled against this company in 2007.  What for? I hear you cry. Click the link and read for yourself.  Suffice it to say, in the words of the ASA, “The mailing breached CAP Code clause 7.1 (Truthfulness).”

Today, we discover that the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) is seeking a court order to stop McIntyre and Dodd Marketing Ltd stating:

‘Our case is that these promotions encourage people to believe they have won a valuable prize when, we argue, the plain fact of the matter is that people are being sold a low value product. We have been unable to reach agreement with the companies or secure voluntary agreement that distribution will cease. So we think the best thing now is for the High Court to decide the matter.’

McIntyre and Dodd Marketing Ltd are now part of a group of companies called DM Plc.  Scratch the surface of any of these companies and before long you’re looking at a whole end-to-end database building, direct marketing operation designed (clearly very successfully) to collect names, addresses and postcodes from people entering ‘quiz’ sites and ‘prize draws’ online.

And.. yes, you’ve guessed it! This data then pumps out the other end in the form of direct mail ‘prize draws’ – just like the one you received today. The funny part is that you almost certainly gave them permission in the first place.  The one thing these people aren’t is stupid enough to fall foul of the opt-in laws around direct marketing and database building, rest assured.

Here’s how DM Plc’s shares break down and here are most of the people who get the lion’s share of your money.  And this gives you just a tiny idea of how much of your money is involved in just one of the companies in the group.  Market capitalisation (value) of DM Plc is around £13.5 million – a substantial part of it, no doubt, gained from mailing ‘games of skill and chance’ to your door with premium rate phone numbers for you to call.  Take a closer look at Reuters entry for the company and bios of the top 5 people here.

So is the Community Awards Register a scam?  You, the Googling Great British Public – and now the High Court – will decide.

From an online reputation viewpoint, the fact that 500 people visited this post yesterday and today after being spontaneously and independently moved to type the words “community awards register scam” into Google is very revealing.

What would you have to do in your business to send people searching Google for your co. name plus the word ‘scam’ at the end?  And would you even know if they were?

And perhaps strangest of all is this full page ad from the online New York Times paid notices section in 2008.  What in the world might be the link between that direct mail marketing company name and this one? Answers on a postcard… :-)

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