UPDATE: The Dutch police are aware of these scammers. See this post for a letter from the Dutch police secretariat, a way to report correspondence, and their advice (send no money, do nothing).
Business owners beware – the “European Trade Register” scam is still operating. Why these bottom-feeders have not been shut down by the relevant (i.e. Dutch) authorities is beyond me.
Here’s the email I received today (identical to one I got about 4 years ago):
To: My Business
From: “Marta Low” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Business Registration Update 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen.
In order to have your company inserted in the registry of World Businesses
for 2013/2014 edition, please print, complete and submit the attached
form (PDF file) to the following address:
European Trade Register
P.O. BOX 3079
3502 GB, Utrecht
fax: +31 20 524-8107
Updating is free of charge!
Pay attention to that “Updating is free of charge” up there – notice it’s repeated in bold on the PDF application form they send you.
What they’re counting on is that many people won’t read that itty-bitty fine print down there, which says (emphasis is mine)
The signing of this document represents the acceptance of the following conditions and the conditions stated in “the terms and conditions for insertion” on web page: http://www.european-traderegister.com.
The signing is legally binding and gives you the right of an insertion in the online database of the european trade register which can be accessed via the internet, and a cd rom with european businesses is granted, all in accordance with the contract conditions stated in “the terms and conditions for insertion” on web page: http://www.european-traderegister.com. The validation time of the contract is three years and starts on the eighth day after signing the contract. The insertion is granted after signing and receiving this document by the service provider. I hereby order a subscription with service provider eu business services ltd “european trade register”. I will have an insertion into its database for three years. The price per year is euro 990. The subscription will be automatically extended every year for another year, unless specific written notice is received by the service provider or the subscriber two months before the expiration of the subscription. Your data will be recorded. The place of jurisdiction in any dispute arising is the service provider’s address. The agreement between the service provider and the subscriber is governed by the conditions stated in “the terms and conditions for insertion” on web page: http://www.european-traderegister.com
So, if you thought you were getting a free entry in a European business database, which is what they want you to think, you will be surprised when you’re invoiced for €990 and have legally obligated yourself to pay it. And, if you’re not careful, your entry will be automatically updated every year (at the reasonable rate of €990) unless you notify them in writing.
If you happen to fall for this, these things will happen:
- The company will ignore any attempts to contact them
- If you simply refuse to pay, you will begin to get aggressive and threatening communications from a “global debt collection company,” Waldberg & Hirsch. That firm does not exist – it’s just the same drones trying to frighten you into paying. They will demand payment in full for the agreed-to three years, but will settle for one year’s payment if you’re foolish enough to send it.
- Just ignore them. They can’t sue you, because they are running a scam, they know it, and they don’t want to attract legal attention to themselves. Never pay these gong-farmers a cent; ultimately they’ll go away.
- Throw away any solicitations you receive from
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Again, I’m not sure why the Dutch authorities have not come down on these scum-suckers like 16 tons of Gouda – hopefully at some point they will be shut down.
In the meantime, be careful out there.
The Old Wolf has spoken.