Schools warned of bogus adverts scam

Schools were warned today to watch out for fraudsters flogging bogus advertisements in one of Britain's best-known telephone directories.

Trading standards officials have uncovered a gang of conmen posing as representatives of Yellow Pages.

Working under the name The Yellow Pages 24, they have been tricking victims into spending £499 or £599 on non-existent products.

Officials in Westminster, London, have already seized cheques worth almost £10,000 sent in from duped staff at schools and colleges across Britain.

They believe institutions in Lincolnshire, Kent, Somerset and Shropshire, as well as Scotland and Wales, have been targeted.

Sue Jones, of Westminster City Council, said the received money could be the "tip of the iceberg".

She said: "The fraud is simple, yet has proved highly profitable for those behind it who appear to have been consistently targeting schools, colleges and businesses across the country.

"Busy school staff would not suspect they're the victims of a widespread and systematic fraud as some advertise with Yellow Pages anyway, so when an invoice purporting to be from the company arrives they diligently pay the bill.

"But it is essential all businesses are confident they are dealing with a legitimate firm before parting with their money."

Officials warned staff to be on their guard for unexpected invoices from companies with slightly altered names after receiving hundreds of complaints.

In some cases victims were harassed with threatening phone calls demanding people sign forms to cancel an advertisement they did not order.

Bogus invoices are sent to victims, who pay money into a German bank account or send cheques to an address in Oxford Street.

A spokesman for Yell, publisher of Yellow Pages, said the company has won a High Court injunction against The Yellow Pages 24, shutting its website and fax.

He said: "We take our responsibilities for consumer protection very seriously and as a responsible company are committed to supporting and protecting the users of our products and services and our advertisers.

"We don't hesitate to take legal action if necessary to protect our brand and safeguard our registered trademarks."

Daniel Astaire, of Westminster City Council, said: "This crime is depriving schools and colleges of funds which could pay for extra resources for pupils.

"We are doing all we can along with law enforcement agencies to help track down those responsible and bring them to justice."

* Anyone who suspects they have been targeted should contact Consumer Direct on 0845 4040506.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon


Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London