Northern Ireland’s small firms are being targeted by fraudsters, trading standards officers have warned. Officials describe an “alarming increase” in reported frauds and attempted frauds.
“Scamming businesses, both large and small, can be so profitable that many scammers now concentrate solely on targeting the business sector,” said Damien Doherty, area inspector for Trading Standards.
“Scams are a multi-million pound industry and businesses are often viewed as easy-pickings. We see examples, on almost a daily basis, in which small businesses hand over money to the scammers without researching the service being offered, or finding out details about the company they are dealing with.
“Unfortunately, by the time the matter is reported to Trading Standards, the scammers have disappeared and it’s too late to get any money back.”
In one scam highlighted by officials, several companies in and around Larne were persuaded to pay for advertising in non-existent publications. One business reported that he was sold advertising space on a menu at a local restaurant on the basis that 40,000 copies would be distributed and that the cost could be recovered through discounts in using the restaurant.
It was only after paying a deposit and seeking to obtain a discount on a table booking that the business found that there was no such arrangement in place and that the print run for the menus was less than 3,000. The owner was unable to recover his deposit.