A Europe-wide mailing scam is resurfacing this week. This morning I received a letter from the European City Guide inviting me to "update my details".
The organisation works by sending a form directly to businesses across Europe. The form appears to be asking for information and prominently displays the phrase ‘cost free’, but hidden in the small print is a notice that returning the form will lead to costs of almost €3000 per year.
Since the year 2000 I have received complaints every year recently about the activities of this organisation. It's now targeting Yorkshire again.
The European City Guide concentrates on small businesses and individuals, and once it has obtained a signature by deception it pursues a strategy of intimidation and bullying to try and extract payment. My advice to anyone who receives a mailing from the European City Guide is to throw it away!
The company has previously been pursued vigorously by Trading Standards and the Office of Fair Trading. It was eventually traced to the Catalan region of Spain. In 2003, a Spanish court fined the company heavily and shut it down for a year. It now seems to have switched bases and is operating from Valencia, but its unscrupulous methods are the same.
A website has been set up which gives up-to-date information and support for victims of the scam: http://www.stopecg.org.