Magazine Advertising Phone Scam. Watch Out Local Businesses.

Advertising phone scam
Now I think I buck the trend. I love a good old-fashioned phone call, so when my phone rang this morning, I answered it without a shred of dread (poetry corner beckons).

Okay, so it was a withheld number, but my spidey senses were not quivering. Could it be a new customer enquiry? Fingers crossed.

But no, it was Damien.

Damien, it turned out, was a fast talking, northern cold caller with a maverick streak. Skipping any formality, I quickly became his ‘hun’.

Is that the distant sound of alarm bells?

He went on to offer me advertising space in a new monthly school magazine. The magazine was strongly "community based" and contained everything from local interest stories to school curriculums and local cinema times.

Apparently, this publication was only going to run for a year and would be distributed to all parents (over 21,000 homes) and local businesses in the area.

Damien went on to tell me that I could have a half-page advert for £385, a quarter-page advert for £295 or a postcard size advert for £165. He was quick to add that this last option was the most popular.

I was in the middle of pondering the size of a postcard versus a quarter of a page but Damien had already moved on.

He was now sharing the good news that they would even supply the advert's artwork and, as an added bonus, I would receive a copy of the magazine each month.

Damien urged me not to wait too long. Time was of the essence. With only limited spaces and my competitors waiting to take all the prime spots, I should sign up now. A verbal agreement was fine. "It's okay," he told me reassuringly "We're regulated by OFCOM."

By now the alarm bells were so loud they were giving me a migraine. I asked him to send me the details, made my excuses and ended the call.

Damien didn’t email me (nor was he ever going to). He’d obviously moved on to a new ‘hun’.

Is it a Scam?

No big reveal necessary. Yes, it is. This is just one of many phone scams targeting large and small businesses. Other dodgy doings include:
  • Directory and publishing scams
  • Unnecessary services and unsolicited goods scams
  • Advance-fee fraud, and investment scams

So How Do You Spot an Advertising Space Phone Scammer?

Look out for these top 6 clues
  1. The call is unsolicited
  2. The scammer will associate themselves with ‘a good cause’ e.g. charities, emergency services, hospitals, schools, etc.
  3. It will be a limited offer, either in terms of time or volume.
  4. The scammer will claim to have the backing of a respected organisation. It could be a trade association, the police, your local authority, the Government, the NHS, etc. They may also claim to have links with a celebrity or large company.
  5. They may not ask for money upfront or will ask for a very small amount.
  6. They are reluctant (or refuse) to put anything in writing
The NFRN (Federation of Independent Retailers) have urged businesses not to agree to advertise in such publications without taking time to ensure the claims made by the caller are true.

If you have been affected by this, or any other scam, you can contact Action Fraud or your local police station.

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