A MANCHESTER-BASED COMPANY called Movette that pretended to be associated with Google, faked free services and then charged people for the privilege, has thankfully been closed down by the UK Insolvency Service (IS)
The IS said that the firm was actually pretending to be Google. That sounds like a full-time job to us, and for Movette it probably was, and a well paid one at that.
What the firm was offering was a service that managed a "Google My Business" set of customer lists. The IS says that the firm acted like companies that provide online content management services, but was charging for GmB, which is something that Google actually provides for free.
We assume that some low hanging fruit fell for the scam because surely the first thing that anyone would have Googled "Google My Business" and worked that out for themselves. But then we make a lot of assumptions.
The IS got to work and found that during its two-year trading history Movette had already generated a lot of complaints.
"The investigation found Movette Ltd had been the subject of a significant volume of complaints to regulatory bodies such as Action Fraud and Trading Standards during its two-and-a-half year trading history," it said in an announcement about this.
"These complaints, together with information gathered from customers during the investigation, established that the company [carried out a load of bad business]".
This bad business, which is our term for it, included the suggestion of the association with Google, the taking of money for free things, the making of threats to withdraw free services unless payment is made, making it difficult to cancel contracts, and using hardman shakedown tactics to ensure that payments are made.
The company's financial records showed it received fees totalling £537,000, which sounds like small beans but they must be official financial records so they might not be 100 per cent legit.
"Movette used deceptive methods to persuade customers to sign up for its service, including stating or implying that it represented or was connected to Google," said Colin Cronin, complaint letter archive reader and investigation supervisor with the Insolvency Service.
"I would urge any business which is contacted by cold-call and invited to sign up for a Google My Business listing to make full enquiries into the service being offered before entering into any agreement. Google My Business is, in fact, a free service which allows businesses to enter and update information with the intention of marketing themselves to users of the search engine." µ
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