Liverpool publishing firm at centre of ‘scam’ advertising probe

Weinstein Williams Website

Weinstein Williams Website

A LIVERPOOL publishing firm is at the centre of a fraud investigation surrounding alleged false selling of advertising space.

Trading standards officers raided the offices of Weinstein Williams, which produces booklets and planners, in city centre Dale Street, taking away computers and files.

A private property in Tarbock Green, believed to belong to the owner of the company, was also searched.

It is understood to be the first investigation of its type by the newly-created “Scambusters” unit, which is based in Liverpool and represents 22 councils across the North West.

Merseyside police’s economic crime unit is also involved in the investigation.

The raid followed a number of complaints from across the country about businesses claiming they handed money to Weinstein Williams but were never shown any evidence an advert had appeared or the publication existed.

The company cold-called organisations across the UK offering them advertising space within publications.

Many complaints also focused around claims businesses were pressured into paying for adverts they never agreed to.

Council officials said the evidence collected on the raids will be evaluated to establish whether there is enough evidence to bring the case to court under charges relating to the Fraud Act.

The company could also face civil action if Scambusters requests an order stopping it from falsely selling advertising.

The Liverpool ECHO contacted Weinstein Williams for a comment but the call was not returned.

Cllr Berni Turner, executive member for the environment, said: “Although Weinstein Williams is based in Liverpool, it operated across the country and tended to contact potential advertisers outside the city.

“It made it impossible for a single trading standards team to take any action against it.

“Scambusters was set up to tackle rogue traders who operate across council borders.”

Paul Noone, chairman of Trading Standards North West, said the region seemed to have a lot of companies trying to sell advertising in publications claiming to have links with charities.

He added: “Many of these companies are reputable, but some will use underhand tactics to convince small businesses to advertise in publications which only have small circulations or are never even printed.”

Adscams Comment:  It is interesting to see at the time of writing, that their website claims they are the victims of “unscrupulous publishers claiming to be Weinstein Williams.”  Have you had any dealings with this company?  Do let us know.

Source: Liverpool Echo & Thanks to Commenter “Paul” for the heads up on this.

126 thoughts on “Liverpool publishing firm at centre of ‘scam’ advertising probe”

  1. As this company targets “traders” (opposed to “consumers”), the traders are not entitled to the statutory 14 day cooling off period. Therefore, unless you very specifically say “no”, you may find you have entered into a contract. The company are robustly litigious so be very careful what you say.

    Reported to be calling businesses in Bedfordshire on 6th April 2010 so the raid does not seem to have deterred them.

  2. They are still trading! Beware….they are linked to other companies that share the same database.

  3. They are still trading! Beware….they are linked to other companies that share the same database.

  4. Have recently won a writ against them and they have refused to respond. this goes back over 2 years and they certainly do not publish anything like they claim. Based in Hants, why would I like to place an emergency plumbing advert in Lincolnshire and Tyneside. They promised me it would be local to my area for 80,000 printed copies. To Date I have not received an Art proof or invoice.

    the Original Advert was upgraded but they took out both fee’s and refused to give me a part or full refund. In the End I used there own tack-ticks against them. They and all the staff need bringing down and locked up, the staff knew what they were doing.

  5. We have been a victim of something like this , all saying that we placed ad three months ago, which is not true. There is only two of us here that run the holiday business. I had another call of the same this morning, I did not get the company’s name, but the guy had a Liverpool accent. Can anyone advise me as what action I can take.

  6. my daughter is at a unniversity in liverpool and she was looking for a summer job and entered a job vacency on internet she was told that she had got a managers post with no qualifacations and was going to be earning 100.000 a year and was going to leave uni for this job luckily i was worried and went on internet and noticed a lot of letters sent in of this scam so could somebody email me

  7. have been bitten by this firm Weinstein Williams, selling me advertising space for a magazine they claimed was for West Mercia Police. I cancelled the ad within 24 hrs once I had checked out their website & it became clear that they did not represent the West Mercia Police at all.

    It has been impossible to get in touch with them via telephone and there has been no response via email. I recieved a demand for payment this week so have attempted to contact them all over again. I found myself getting a bit worried until I googled them for complaints and found that there were several complaint forums and a few expose articles, so I copied and pasted the links to my original emails and sent to their customer service dept wth smiley faces attached telling them to enjoy their reading material and advising them to start looking for new jobs!! Ha let them get worried for a change instead of spooking hard working honest folk!!

  8. yep me too.. sold advert for my acupuncture business in a magazine with promise of reaching 18000 emergency services workers households
    Now can’t get hold of them and haven’t received any artwork..
    what can be done??
    going to contact my bank to see if they can reclaim the money
    I agree they should be locked up

  9. We are a small business and took a call from a Police Office 10 weeks ago asking if we would like to advertise in their in house emergency services magazine. As the peice was relevant to our industry I said this would be a good idea BUT needed to see evidence of the magazine first and needed to see in invoice and costings before any monies were paid.
    Whilst the ‘police’ were off the phone and getting the information we required I Googled the phone number and found out that they were a ‘scam’ marketing agency. I quickly called back and said thanks but no thanks, you are not the police.

    I managed to find 100’s of links to complaints all over the internet.

    Today we took a call from them again explaining that our advert was ready to go live. I did tell them that we have never offered up an advert and never agreed to work with them. Their response is ‘they have a recording of the phone call where we made a legally binding commitment to pay for an advert’…I told them to shove off basically and they told me their marketing agency would be in touch.

    Since taking that call this morning I have spoken to Consumer Direct and also Wirral Police (as the scammers are based in Liverpool). The police are aware loosley of the company and will look into it for us.

    If you HAVE paid money then Trading Standards suggest you may well end up in court HOWEVER any reasonable judge will see that Wienstien Williams are mere scammers and you will be fine.

    If you HAVE NOT paid any money and they chase you, simply refer them back to the Wirral Police and Trading Standards / Consumer Direct.

  10. A company, suggesting that they are calling on behalf of the ‘National Crime Prevention Council’, are cold calling people with the scenarios as descibed above…’we recently spoke to you, and you supported our last campaign etc’
    They are operating out of Room 503, Cotton Exchange, Liverpool, L3 9LQ

  11. I was contacted back in January for what seemed a reasonable price for an advertisement in publication called StreetWise magazine. The man who called had a strong liverpudlian accent and claimed his name was John and from the police. After receiving drafts for the advert I paid monies to [edit-Name passed to police]heard nothing else about it. Have had calls in the past two days from what sounds like the same man thanking me for support. [edit-name passed to police] then called to make arrangements for payment. I said I’m not interested. Liverpudlian phoned up today saying this was an advert for SafeGuard’ magazine (or something along those lines). SCAM!!!!!

  12. Lorraine – Thank you for your comments. I had to edit out the company name as we are currently in a legal case with them. We have however passed theur details to the police who are currently investigating these companies.

    Thanks
    Adscams

  13. Oh boy! This is happening tome, and they may have changed their name, or there is a lot of them operating from the cotton exchange, Liverpool, L3 9LQ. I have been offered advertising space from a cold caller from CSPlus selling themselves under the guise of Community Safety Plus. I have said I did not agree to anything. I have now received a letter, (poorly photocopied) from Commercial Credit Solutions, who also appear to be from the same building. The demanded monies, have now gone from the original £95.00 to £161.00 with further threats of ‘litigation’. But, for what?? and, where on earth did they get my details? Please, something must be done.

  14. The names I have of these nasty people are:
    Community Safety Plus, 16 Cotton Exchange, Suite 503, Bixteth Street, L3 9LQ. Phone number 0151 236 1871. Jennifer Roberts was the cold caller, and the second follow up caller was John Anderson, (who then sent me a ‘second’ copy as I had not received the first ‘advert proof’). The woman called again, and said I must pay them £95.00, I do not have £95.00. and hung up. I have received a letter from Commercial Credit Solutions, 5th Floor Cotton Exchange, Old Hall Street, Liverpool, L3 9LQ, phone number 0151 236 4284.demanding £161.00. Can they not be closed down?

  15. I’m a new small business in yorkshire, I have been scammed by all these companies & I’m getting treats daily, has anyone heard of imperial media???:

  16. I also received a call form (the police office)over a year ago, I foolishly agreed to place an add, after many phone calls and e-mails to them they prommised that the ad would be printed. I have just now found I have been screwed. I contacted trading standards, they say I need to write to George Michel Williams t/a Wenstein Willims to ask for money back and then take him to small claims court. I know he live in Tarbock Green but I dont know the full address, can any one help. I should have known but much wiser now.

  17. I have just been contacted by a Liverpulian publishing company wanting to sell me advertising space. /they said they would email me with all the details but have not requested my email address.
    I do not know where they got my details from and since the intial contact 31 minutes ago I have had 7 further calls from them. The second one was from a different person and he wanted to confirm my order!! I had not placed an order. The 7th call was from the original caller giving me a mobile phone number to ring if I have any queries. They seem very eager to get me to confirm my order and rather reluctant to post me any information. If you would like the name of the first contact and his mobile number I have them saved.

  18. Just a quick update, I have phoned the advertising company and told them I did not wish to advertise with them and not to contact me again. The woman I spoke to did not know of the person who had contacted me and so could not put me through to speak to him.
    Thank you for this website, keep up the good work.

  19. I really can’t believe that this scam is still running. Many years ago I was involved with several of these advertising companies as a rep/manager and I’m glad to say I got out and never went back to it.

    Mel,the reason that they are so keen to confirm your order is because that is the only conversation that is recorded.

    The amount of bad debt these companies aquire is amazing, something like 50% of advertisers never pay! The reason for this is sales reps move from one adscam company to the next and call the same clients they sold space to at the last company they worked for. Most of the time the sales rep knows the client will never pay but he/she doesn’t really care because they will of moved on to the next company before the their bosses get a chance to clawback any commission.

    To the best of my knowledge no bogus charity publisher has ever successfully taken anyone to court! If you receive any court papers check to see if they are stamped by the court. If they aren’t (and they wont be) then bin them or take them to trading standards!

    If you are contacted by a debt recovery company chances are it’s run by the same people who sold you the advert in the first place. Trust me, they will give up eventually if you refuse to pay.

  20. Please could any one tell me if they have had any dealings with Emergency Services Press Of Liverpool. I am at court letter stage and am very frustrated, they recorded me and only wanted a yes and not interested in the details. Help someone please.

  21. Ive not long started up my buisness and i think im now a victim of this scam.

    I got a phone call from a man with a liverpoolian accent and he offerd to sell me advertising, and stupidly i said yes, ive recived the artwork and everything,

    but stupidly ive only just decided to research the company, and it all points to this being a scam,i now fear that i will have to pay them the money and when i last spoke to them on the phone they told me there was no way i could cancel

    is their anything i can do?

  22. I im at court letter stage aswell these people can not be trusted ive had loads of phone calls asking for payment but im not paying for something i do not want please could some one help .

  23. I was caught by these people not long after opening a new company. Very niavely I took the opportunity to have an advert which would reach so many people in the emergency services and public sector. However the art work sent to me was awful. To cut a long story short luckily the took the advrt artwork from my business card which was tiny. I kept getting demands for the advert but managed to get out of paying as the ad was not what I was being charged for. I did contact the police who confirmed that they did NOT endorse the magazine and have never heard of it. My husband has started a business and low and behold, they are already phoning. I just told them I was reporting them as impersonating a police office is illegal. They soon hung up.

  24. Have a company been removed from this post, as I’ve searched a company (I’m not putting their name in just in case it gets removed) and this post come up, but their name isn’t on the page?

    However, they are still trading and making a nuisance of themselves calling up small companies like ourselves forcing advertising on us when we don’t want to advertise. They are based in Birkenhead, and seem very much like Weinstein Williams in their process.

  25. I have had endless calls last week from people trying to sell me electricity, so when I hung up on what I thought was another one and got a call back from claiming to be the police, I panicked and let him talk me into the advertising after trying to pull out for ages.

    Got another phone call minutes later from a man claiming to be confirming this order when he said he could offer me the ad cheaper I finally clicked that it was a scam and told them him I wasn’t really sure I wanted it and didn’t have anyway to pay that day so he said he was going to call me back and created a password.

    Called back the next day my wife answered and told him to get lost and we knew he was a criminal and to go away, as we had not recieved any invoice either by post or email as promised.

    Didn’t hear anything from last friday till yesterday with the guy being very hostile and claiming he was going to send Bailiffs and if I agreed to this instrustion, I told him the only instruction I would give him was to go to hell as I knew my rights and could cancel the order especially as I hadn’t confirmed any form of payment. He tried to claim his verbal contract was founded in law.

    He kept calling but I kept hanging up, my nerves were shot so I had to close my studio/shop at lunch time. Number 0151 652 1615

    Today got a call from an unknown number claiming to be their Solicitor and they were taking out a CCJ against me I repeated the Distance selling regulations of 2000 against them they said I had waived my rights to that over the phone by setting up a password. He was told we were looking forward to his letter.

    My nerves aren’t doing too good, I am only a studio potter I don’t earn enough to be closing my shop/studio every time they call.

  26. Yes this happened to me yesterday, I received three calls but didn’t fall for the whole “if you give us your card details we can give you a discount”.I received the email but probably won’t receive any literature as they have promised within 3-4 working days along with a call regarding your company logo for the artwork.If you receive the call it will show as “blocked” on your phone.Be warned as these people come across as very professional and courteous.

  27. I took out an advert with one after a fairly convincing phone call. I received a copy of a fairly glossy magazine that included my ad. There were other local companies listed who I know of.
    After 3 requests I received a copy of the local area distribution list. Doctors surgeries, dentists etc. Of the two I chose to call in to they have never heard of the magazine. I also have not received a single enquiry from the advert (I always ask how people found out about us).
    I believe I have been scammed from reading the above. I was also told on receiving the magazine that I shouldn’t forward it to other people as scammers would get hold of it and harrass the advetisers using details from the magazine. It took me a few seconds to click that surely the magazine was freely available to everyone at lots of venues???? HMMM.

  28. THIS is happening to me!!I got caught with the same,yesterday,and again today,claiming they are from the local council,etc.BUT THIS HAS BEEN RUNNING FOR OVER 15 YEARS NOW!!,AS I GOT CAUGHT OVER 15 YEARS AGO,WHAT SORT OF MONEY ARE THEY MAKING!WHEN FIRST CALLED 15 YEARS AGO,they spent ONE AND A HALF HOURS RINGING ME ON MY MOBILE!So far this has happend to me at least 10 times in the last 15+ years.They obtain most information from the yellow pages,where they copy the advert,WHICH IS A BREACH OF COPYRIGHT!.buyer beware!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  29. Bother got cought by these guy’s Nov10,had been concidering doing some advertising when I got the call. Have spoken to trading standards, who have been great but mistook me as a consumer not a buisness to start so the first letter of cancelation was not correct….. Still waiting to here what I said yes to in the call, but bet your bottom dollar all the stuff they promised won’t be there!! noticed Chris got caught the same way, what did she do ??..And how did CAZ get off paying???
    Have since heard of some one else in the Town has paid for an add but not received anything!! which breeches what they told me as I was going to be the only therapist in my field within the county to advertise with them

  30. i have been conned by two companies one is essex road safety and the other is advanced publications on 18 january 2011. Cant believe ive been stupid twice! but had another call from 3rd company today but luckily wised up. They apparently have recording of me accepting the contract and their legal department will be in contact! Im surprised that they sent me a sample and all the paper work in the post that is so convincing. Will the bank not get the money back as you have paid for goods that you did not recieve?. I don’t usually fall for it, but have been had this time.

  31. I had a call from these people today saying I would be the recommended Hypnotherapist in the area for police personel for the next 12 months. I got suspicious when they started quoting advertising rates and the guy sounded too much like a salesman. I guess I had a lucky escape, karma will get them eventualy.

  32. My Medical practice has been inundated with threats of legal action for adverts. Our practice manager had allegedly commissioned space on various websites. Only today we have been aggressively chased by a character for hundreds of pounds for an advert (they say) was ordered last August. A companies house search showed that the company was only incorporated in January 2011!

    In some cases scammers have cut and pasted items from our website and added them to a website that they have created. This does not constiture a legal right to charge us!

    The scammers don’t advertise the websites in any media and so there is never any traffic seeking the sites out. So, the advert is always a waste of money.

    If you have money to spend on advertising, seek out reputable agents and ask for proof of their work and evidence of how they drive people to thir sites.

    We have been told on several occasions that a taped voice order was made of one our staff. The letters say that the company has obtained a judgement and the baliffs will be entering our premises to seize equipment.

    Advice:

    1.
    Never Ignore and hope it will go away.
    2.
    Don’t panic and don’t secumb to ther threats.
    3.
    Do not pay and never give bank or credit card information to them.
    4.
    Robustly challenge and demand proofs of purchase in writing.
    5.
    Ask for a copy of any alleged taped order conversations.We always do this, they always agree and not one has been forthcoming!
    6.
    There are sites listing the names of known scammers. However, they create new companies to stay ahead of the game. Check out the company on the Companies House webcheck service, invariably they are brand new with no track record.
    7.
    Report to the police, some forces are interested others less so.
    8.
    Don’t bother with trading standards they don’t deal with commercial issues.
    9.
    If the scammers call and threaten you or your staff, end the call by saying that you are calling the police .. and do it!!
    10.
    Some of the scammers also have mates with heavy Mancunian voices (It’s invariably Manchester!!). These lovely characters pretend to be collection heavies. Don’t be thretened and end any difficult calls immediately.
    11.
    Stay calm and professional, don’t let them intimidate you or upset you, that’s their main means of forcing you to pay up.
    12.
    They will tell you the debt has gone to court and daily fees are accruing on the balance. In the absence of documentary evidence of court action or of earlier recovery activity it won’t have gone anywhere near court!

    Don’t let them get away with this folks. If in doubt take legal advice and chat with your local police.

  33. My son received a call from them recently, initially he said no – they called and were persuasive, he said he would look at the art work, which he never received. They started to harass him for payment, however, he does not know what he has purchased! who pays for something they cannot see! Apparently he could view what he purchased online, but he had to accept their terms and conditions first.

    I have advised him to ignore them and not to pay – he has now received a FINAL DEMAND from a debt collector, again i have advised him to ignore this too, they do not have rights without court papers.

    I may also advise him to report them to the office of fair trading for harrassment, but i think after reading what has been posted here I may also suggest he send them the links to their own bad press!

    What do others think I should advise?

  34. i worked for george williams for inexcess tv in citrus house for about a month in april 2011. it was my first sales job and was told to sell this app called recovery finder from itunes. i thought it was dodgy from the start. i was told one morning they had to let me go and i never got paid!. they gave me a cheque and it bounced. i feel like such an idiot for being so naive. i made 3 sales in that time then when i went to get my money was told i didnt make any. i bet the people didnt even get their advertising space. ive just found all this out by typing his name in google.

  35. Well I have been conned over several months, may as well put my hands up!! I have bought advertising space in a few magazines, always I have been pursuaded that I have agreed this, they seem to wait a while, todays latest told me they spoke to me on 12th Jaunuary. I have taken a stand and told them Im not doing any of it, and of course then come the threats, they will take me to court, they will ring me all day everyday until I agree to pay. I have not nor will I, These ones are a new one Ive never heard the name before Sunnymead publishing?? has anyone else had experience of them, they say they are doing crime prevention magazine. Perhaps thats their idea of irony.

  36. I think I am in the middle of this scam. I have been contacted a few times from a company called Alexander Group, or something like that. They say they are creating a magazine on behalf of Police Community Clubs. The website looks good and there is a lot of information on it too. The call is always from a blocked phone number and always saying that I had advertised in the past. Unfortunately I did place advertising in a magazine that was supposedly on behalf of Kent Fire & Rescue, I even received a magazine with the ad inside, although noone else in the area received such a magazine. I lost over £350 then.

    The calls this week have been asking me for early payment which I refused, I said send me an invoice. They said they would send an invoice and artwork to approve. I always create my own artwork as we have a company brand to promote, so I would not let a print firm design something I had not had any input.

    I have reported this to Kent Police and received a report number which is going to the intellegence team.

  37. Well I’m so glad we weren’t the only suckers fooled by these crooks who have already been paid for the magazine publication…which I havn’t seen anywhere in Hull where our business is… and they are now threatening us with Court for a Wall Planner which I did not agree to, have not seen a copy of, do not know where it has allegedly been distributed to, yet they sent me a taped recording of me sounding very bewildered and agreeing to it .I think that they have played around with the recordings as lets face it with computer technology available a child could probably do this and they do go on and confuse you which I think is part of their tactics. We too are a new small business and it seem after reading several forums about Safeguard Magazine it’s ourselves they target. I am so angry that we let these criminals scam us but even more so that they are now threatening us with legal action … aaarrrggghhhhhh !!!!!

  38. Received an unsolcited call from a professional sounding gentleman who claimed to be the press officer for the fire and police services. Without prompting he quickly moved into his sales patter about how as a local business I could help support the emergency services. I stopped him at this point and explained that I had worked for the Home Office and was confused as to what role he claimed to hold. At this point his verbal pattern fluttered. He rapidly changed his approach saying “I can see I have obviously confused you as to my role, so I will send you a press pack which will make things clearer and ring you next week”, and then promptly ended the call. Trading standards and Police will be informed.

  39. My wife was caught by this we realised early but makes no diffrence. We are at the early stage.

    Considering calling there bluff and taking them to the small claims court as it cost very little.

    I wouldn’t expect them to turn up therefore would win by default. But if they turn up it could get difficult at the moment just going to ignor and file the letter and report them to the police for harrasment.

  40. Hi Sue, I have been scammed by Sunny Meadow too. They also pretend to be Data Protection and Data Removal Service. I haven’t paid them – they apparently called me in January too. They keep sendng me letters and have chased me by phone too. But I won’t pay.

    Hi Ian, I got involved in charity advertising because of the Police Communities Club of Great Britain, which gets very positive coverage on the intenet. They deliberately raise money by offering advertising in their magazine knowing full well that anyone who advertises with them will be targetted by the scammers in the future. I have also been in touch with Kent Police.

  41. we had a call from what appeared to be the emergencey services magazine well it did not dawn on us until later the same day a scouser called anyway we emailed to cancel then we called them and he reckons under section 13 we could not cancel i blew a fuse and threated the fella who remained calm i said i would call at the office a so called london address then i said tell me the proper address he said it was in london i said no chance a scouser in london any way if they send anyone or start the baloney then we will certainly deal with them however vision is another bogus group and this firm is espress anyone with information of where it it please enlighten us .

  42. espress ltd registered in london last year scouser well what more can we say, buisness line was engaged ect ect EMERGENCY SERVICES BULLETIN iS A SCAM SCAM SCAM SCAM 1 liverpool street london ec2m 7qd probably a virtual address

  43. emergency services press just phoned me, yes a scouser. i was initially sceptical and een mentioned a scamre wallplanners I came accross at work. I agreed to the discounted ad and confirmed the order to the second caller.
    Now i don’t want anything to do with them – any advice from anyone?

  44. Karen, best advice I can give you is:

    1) Email/write to them confirming the cancellation

    2) Speak to your local trading standards office, and possibly the only dealing locally with the company.

    3) Check if your business has access to good legal advice via trade association membership or your issuers. If not, have your company consider joining the federation of small business or similar. I’m a member of the fsb, and have access to a *very* useful legal advice line to offer good support.

  45. Well, well…..I have had these people on the phone yesterday and the same applied. Guy rang me stating they are from Energency Services and he is the principle press guy. Sounded great deal and then another guy rang stating that I was happy with the way his collegue had sold the ad. Discounts were available if I paid straight away. I then realised that all I had was two phone calls and I was going to part with over £300!! Stalled him and the invoice came today for £420. I got a bit curious so started looking for this Aware EMS Magazine. Could not find anything except scam forums!!

    Just suussed in time and going to tell him politely to go and take a rain check when they call and I’m sure they will!!!!

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