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.