East Ren businesses warned over German letter scam

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TRADING standards has issued a warning after being alerted to a new business scam operating in East Renfrewshire.

A business in Busby received a letter from a German-based company, TVV Tele Vereichis Verlag GmbH, informing the East Ren company that it owned the UK corporate portal for the VAT registrations of UK firms.

The letter implied that the local company had to supply its registration number to be put on the German firm’s website — but hidden in the text was that this would be in the form of an advert, to a cost of £797 for three years, and a fourth unless terminated in writing.

Steve Fox, East Renfrewshire council’s principal trading standards officer, said: “This is a scam on lots of levels. Not all businesses have to register VAT. In 2012 a company had to have a turnover in excess of £77,000.

“Companies that are liable will have a VAT registration number but that is allocated by HMRC, which keeps a register.

“There is no need to have number registered elsewhere. The letter states that German law applies but why would a legitimate contract signed in the UK state that German law applies?

“Lastly, the website does not exist so you would be paying for nothing. But if you did not pay any invoice then there would follow a letter threatening legal action in Germany — of course, no action would take place.

“My advice would be to ignore this letter. Just bin it.”