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Just when you thought it was a good idea to support a well known charity, you get scammed, again and again.
Recently I was approached by the Queensland Police Legacy Handbook , a legitimate organisation that helps with all sorts of events and opportunities for members and their families of our emergency services.
My philosophy in business has always been: I expect the community to support me, so the community should have a similar expectation of me, that is, to support the community.
I do this in various ways. Free signage for local community groups and advertising in community oriented publications is my normal approach.
In this instance, Police Legacy was promoting a sporting event between the various emergency services. Did I expect to get business from the publication? No. However I did feel that taking up their offer of a small advert in lieu of a ‘donation’ would be of some help to their goal.
When I received my copy, I was delighted to see the publication was professional, and informative. I was happy to be involved.
A short time later, I got a call from the National Emergency Relief publication stating that they had rec'd a request to have me removed from their mailing list, and they needed to confirm my details. I realised too late that it was a sneaky way of getting my details to continue the scam.
I got a call about an hour later telling me that she was a supervisor, and that she was confirming that my name wanted to be removed from the database, and that I understood I would have an invoice for the final advert in the National Emergency Relief publication. She said that the $387 1/4 page spread would be in my letterbox by the end of the week, as my personal copy.
I replied that I understood, and before I could say anymore, she advised me that my answer was recorded and thanked me for my business, then said goodbye.
I immediately tried to ring her back to tell her I hadn't ordered any advertising but her number was blocked. I searched for the publication on the net, and confirmed what I was beginning to wonder myself. It was a scam.
Other magazine titles in the scam are - The Underprivileged Children’s Guide, and The Volunteer Organisations Guide. All magazines are from Adepto Publications.
I rang the ACCC and they were very aware of them. They told me not to pay the bill, and gave me all the laws they had broken so I could quote them to Adepto in my reply.
When the ‘magazine’ arrived it was clearly photocopied, and a very poor rendition of a magazine.
My logo was also incorrect, so I advised them unless I could see a proof of the advert signed by my office, or a signed written order, I’ll not be paying.
I also informed them that I had advised the ACCC of the scam, and that I would forward the magazine and account to the ACCC for their records.
This week the ACCC have taken action against the company, issuing an injunction to trade.
Now, I’m getting calls from ‘innocent’ sounding girls, claiming they are doing a TAFE or University course in publishing, and asking if I could send them any examples of advertising I may have done recently.
The first phone call I got asked if I had advertised in the Police Legacy Guide. I said yes.
Then she asked if I’d advertised a publication called The National Emergency Relief Guide. I said that I had a publication in my possession, but I didn’t advertise in it.
She asked if she could ‘borrow’ the Emergency relief guide for her course.
Smelling a rat, I said “Sure, I’ll send you something”
She offered to send me a post paid bag for me to send the magazine back.
When that arrived, I send back the Police Legacy journal instead.
I got another call today, from another ‘innocent’ young lady saying she noticed my advert in the Underprivileged Children’s Guide, and was wondering if she could borrow my copy for her university studies.
As I didn’t advertise in that publication, it confirmed what I suspected - Adepto are trying to get their publications back so the ACCC can‘t have the evidence.
I’m not sure who I’m disgusted with most.
The company for scamming the unsuspecting customer, or the girls on the phone for perpetrating the crime.
There are other scams out there of course, but this one has crossed all the lines as far as the ACCC are concerned.
These criminals, and criminals like them work on percentages. They rely on a break down in communication within the business they are dealing with. They usually approach medium to large businesses that have a culture of sending the invoice off to the accounts dept, and the publication off to the sales department. Even small businesses like mine get caught easily.
My own father was contacted recently with a similar scam. The woman on the phone had him so convinced that he’d forgotten the conversation, she had him agreeing to the conditions in no time.
It was not until the request for payment landed on my desk that I was able to start asking questions.
I threatened them with the ACCC by email. I had the ‘manager’ call me a few minutes later advising me they had broken no laws because the very fine print stated that ‘payment was an authorisation to proceed with the advert’. He pointed out that if I didn’t pay, it was not authorised, so no laws were broken.
I rang the ACCC again, and they said he was right. But, if I didn’t read the fine print and just paid the bill, I had no recourse later in claiming I didn’t authorised the advert.
It drives me crazy that these scum get away with this so easily. They prey on people who are trusting for the most part, or just too busy to take much notice, or companies that have a lack of communication between staff.
Check out these links anyway. It makes interesting reading
http://www.tinyurl.com.au/y01 (opens in new window)
http://www.tinyurl.com.au/y02 (opens in new window)