How did a fake internet yellow pages company scam people in the US, Canada, and Australia?
Since 2009, a company based in Palma de Mallorca, Spain has used British and Dutch based corporations to send unsolicited emails to numerous small organization, in the hope of scamming those organizations out of money.
Implicitly pretending affiliation with the Yellow Pages, this company faxed forms to organizations under the pretense of having a preexisting relationship with those organizations. Then, confident with the pseudo-Yellow Page company’s credentials, organizations would reply to the scam company under the assumption that they were simply renewing their Yellow Pages information. What they did not know, however, was that in the fine print the scam company induced the unassuming organizations into registration in a separate online directory, at the rate of $89/month.
What has the FTC done as a result of the scam?
When organizations came to understand their predicament, and that they had entered into agreements with the fraudulent company under false assumptions, the FTC began taking a keen interest in the issue. After repeated instances, the FTC determined that the Mallorca based company indubitably sought to defraud these organizations. Upon that revelation, the FTC persuaded a federal judge to halt all transactions taking place between Americans and the European-based company.
To be sure, the Mallorca-based company did indicate its intent in the small print attached to the information sheets sent out to organizations and individuals. However, given the implicit representation the entire remainder of the fax conveys, many feel that Americans deserve justice. The FTC has recently declared that it desires nothing less than for the Mallorca company to refund all people defrauded by this scheme.
What has the response from other countries been to the scam?
Canada, Australia, and perhaps other countries have felt the effects of the Mallorca-based fraudsters. The Canadian Competition Bureau specifically has worked vigorously with the FTC in the past to stamp out schemes like this one, with the intention of defrauding consumers. In this most recent example, concerning the Mallorca-based organization, the Canadian Competition Bureau joined the FTC by filing suit against this organization which they feel has led to business losses by small businesses and organizations in Canada.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, likewise, has previously brought action against the Mallorca company’s actions done to consumers in Australia. With the help and advice of these organizations, the FTC seeks now to prevent Americans and others in countries, potentially, across the globe, in preventing the Mallorca company from further being able to defraud and deceive unwitting consumers into their scheme.