Companies targeted in fake directory scam
Lynda Steele & Sandra Hermiston, CTV British Columbia
Published Thursday, February 7, 2013 6:00AM PST
Last Updated Thursday, February 7, 2013 8:00PM PST
Business owners who advertise in the Yellow Pages are being targeted by a fake directory scam making the rounds in B.C.
Model scout and manager Brenda Wong was shocked when she recently received a $1,500 invoice for what appeared to be ad space in the local Yellow Pages directory. A closer look revealed it wasn't the real Yellow Pages at all, but a company called Yellow Page Canada that Wong didn't sign up for.
“I started to dig deeper to find out it's not the Yellow Pages, it's another company, some other directory and it's kind of a trick. It's deceiving. I felt a bit tricked and also I didn't sign up for it,” said Wong.
The real Yellow Pages uses its iconic walking fingers, while Yellow Page Canada uses walking fingers that walk in a different direction.
Yellow Page Canada has an ‘F’ rating with the Better Business Bureau, with 326 complaints in the past three years.
The BBB says sham companies capitalize on the iconic Yellow Pages logo to trick businesses into thinking they're listing with a legitimate company, then push you to pay for non-existent services.
“They can threaten everything from your credit rating to saying that they will be threatening legal action of some sort. All these things are veiled threats to create pressure and more incentive for you to pay the invoice that you really haven't subscribed to,” said Mark Fernandes, BBB Communications and Marketing Specialist.
“I would hate to see other people get, I guess sucked in would be the word. It's not fair. They're tricky and they're really deceiving people,” said Wong.
The BBB advises people to never pay for a service you did not sign up for and if you do receive a suspicious invoice to ignore it and shred it.
Last year, five businesses were found guilty of violating the Competition Act for operating a deceptive marketing scheme that used variations of the well-known trademarks of the Yellow Pages group.
An Ontario court ordered the companies to pay nine million dollars in penalties and pay back the Canadians duped by the scheme. But the companies are fighting the ruling and the appeals are before an Ontario court. The Competition Bureau whose investigation triggered the lawsuit wants to hear from anyone who has been contacted by these sham companies.