A restaurant scam that cons businesses into believing it is part of a "free" tourist directory has struck again.
Claudio Pulze's Al Duca restaurant in London is the latest victim of the hoax, which asks restaurants to join a "free" tourist directory by NovaChannel of Lucerne in Switzerland.
A spokeswoman for the Piccadilly venue said that a junior member of management had signed a contract in May 2004 after being told on the phone that entry was free.
But the small print committed the restaurant to adverts in three editions of the CD-Rom at €989 (£670) per ad plus €98 (£66) for each CD-Rom. The contract automatically extends each year, unless cancelled three months before the year-end.
Al Duca stumped up £300 this month after receiving threatening letters from debt collector Gravis Gravis Inkasso in Vienna, Austria.
However, a website set up to combat such scams (www.stopecg.org) says there are no known court cases against parties refusing to pay either company. It warns that paying often led to further demands for money.
The website advises victims to contact authorities in Switzerland and Austria as well as their local trading standards officers.
State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Switzerland, e-mail: email@example.com
Austrian Advertising Council e-mail:
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