publicservice.co.uk Scam – publicservice.co.uk Fraud

UK Scams Sep 21, 2012 9 Comments

publicservice.co.uk are bunch of hard core old school scammers.

There is no dearth of scammers who keep on popping up with new and innovative ways to scam hard working individuals and companies.

publicservice.co.uk are one of such scammers who looks like a genuine business in disguise of clever cons. They are so clever that I almost got busted by them.

Read on how publicservice.co.uk scam works.

About publicservice.co.uk

First of all the name is really very confusing. If you receive a call from publicservice.co.uk your first impression would be that they are somehow associated with UK public services or government. This assumption further gets substantiated by their publication which all seem to be on the topics related with UK public sector and government.

A little is known about them except what you can find from their website. They seem to be a news and publication business who happen to publish news and articles on UK’s public sector and for government.

How I almost go scammed by publicservice.co.uk

On Thursday, 13th September around 11:00 AM I received a call from Ms Natalia Barbah. Caller identity was unknown. The call started with their introduction followed by enuiry about my Mobile App Development Business. She further explained that UK govt. is taking initiative in rolling out Mobile Phone App development projects and it is over £1 billion industry which would be a perfect business opportunity for me as business to get into.

So far so good.

Then she explained that they have been commissioned by Mr. David Willett, Minister of State for Universities and Science, to publish a review on the uses of Mobile Phone Apps in educational institutes.

Coming down to business she also explained that my role would be to produce a 2 page article on this topic which will be added in the publication. She also informed me that this review will be seen by most of the UK’s govt. bodies including, of course, Mr. David Willett.

It all sounded great opportunity.

Next she informed that there will be a fee involved and it would be £5,995.

Then she quickly hurried and said that I need to sign on the contract document ASAP as she had just come out of a meeting and she had to go back to submit the signed document to other people who are in the meeting and awaiting for the document. She said she, or someone else from the office would e-mail me the document which I have to sign immediatly within 10 minutes and return to them. She asked if I have fax which I didn’t have. She reluctantly agreed to send it by e-mail.

For some reason I didn’t receive any Email.

20 minutes later I received called from Sophie Williams who introduced herself as Natalia’s supervisor and she emphasized again on the fact that I’ve to send back the signed document within 10 minutes. She also said that “It is not my problem but the urgency of matter” that I’ve to hurry up.

Finally I received one page of document which I signed, scanned and Emailed back to her.

Below is the e-mail

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: RE: test email
Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2012 13:23:04 +0100
From: Sophie Williams
To: my company

Ajay,

Following our recent conversation, please find relevant form attached. Please print, sign in part 4 and email back with immediate effect. Thank you for your prompt attention and we look forward to working with you.

Best regards,

Natalia Barbah

C/O Sophie Williams

www.publicservice.co.uk

Publicservice.co.uk Ltd

Ebenezer House
Ryecroft
Newcastle-under-Lyme
Staffordshire ST5 2UB

Tel: +44 (0)1782 630200

Registered in England
Co. Reg No. 4521155
Vat Reg No. 902 1814 62

cid:image001.jpg@01CBE940.7E0AD910

From: me [mailto:sales@mycompany.com]
Sent: 13 September 2012 13:18
To: Sophie Williams
Subject: test email


Ajay Kumar Singh
My details

And this is the contract

publicservice.co.uk Contract

publicservice.co.uk Contract

This was my mistake and this was the reason why ended up writing this post.

First of all she didn’t informed me clearly that I’ve to pay to them to write 2 pages of articles. Had she informed me that I have to pay for writing articles then I would have immediately hung up phone. And this is the central part of whole scam which I’ll explain later.

Passed 1 week and I didn’t receive any further communication from them. I dropped Email to them but no reply.

Today, 21 September 2012, I received a call from someone called Alex who introduced himself as the person who will be in-charge of my account.

This time Alex pitched another wonderful opportunity in Wales. The topic this time was “Innovative use of IT in education” which will be a publication circulated to all educational institutes in Wales.

He also enquired about my origin, thanks to my thick Indian accent (read racism). It happens all the time, but being an alient in a foreign country you get used to live with this.

He also said that he is planning to visit India to see Sachin Tendulkar playing Cricket. I think I’ve never seen a die hard fan of Sachin Tendulkar so far from a foreign soil. This was usual sales pitch which I’m all familiar with, nothing special.

Further he explained that the cost would be £18k and that he can offer me discount of £3k and offer me a banner placement on his website.

This was the point when I had light bulb moment and I figured out whole scam. A further query revealed that I would have to pay to write review for them.

At this point I informed Alex that I wouldn’t be interested in working with them. I could feel how his longing to see Sachin Tendulkar playing in India turned into a hatred.

WTF!

So you do hard work and you pay them for your hard work.

What a bunch of shameless donkeys they are.

I sent Email to Natalia informing her the same.

2 hours later I received an email from Emma which was a ransom demand.

Look at he subject “Public Service Review: Local Government 21” which looks like they are working for the UK government.

——– Original Message ——–
Subject: 542336 my company Public Service Review: Local Government 21
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2012 13:02:48 +0100
From: Emma Faulkner Dunn
To: sales@dsfdfsdafd.com

Dear Mr A Singh

Contract 00005542336

Public Service Review: Local Government 21

I have been passed your account by my colleague Sophie Williams, with regards to your cancellation request for Contract 542336 to appear in our Public Service Review: Local Government Issue 21.

I write to advise that we are unable to accept your cancellation request as you are outside of your cancellation period. (Clause 9a of our Terms & Conditions of trading). “The client shall have the right to cancel the order within 7days of the date hereon. Notice must be given in writing by the client using Recorded Delivery Post, other than aforesaid the order is binding on the client and payment is due in full.

I have investigated the matter that you state you were under the impression that we would pay you, however Ms Barbah, does recall that she did state there was a cost involved, and payment would be required within 14days after publication, and that you could have 1 page at £3995 or 2 pages at £5995. You agreed to the 2 pages. You then also spoke with Ms Williams who confirmed the cost of £5995 and how it was a good deal.

If cost is an issue, we could arrange a payment plan for you? However this Contract is legally binding and cannot be cancelled.

Kind Regards

Emma Faulkner-Dunn

Customer Liaison Team – Dispute Resolution.

Contract Fulfilment Department

Tel: +44 (0) 1782 629216

Please note as of 24th September this number will change to 0044 1782 741745

Fax: +44 (0) 1782 631856

Email: edunn@publicservice.co.uk

Web: www.publicservice.co.uk

From: Sophie Williams
Sent: 21 September 2012 11:13
To: Emma Faulkner Dunn
Subject: FW: Further details on the publication
Importance: High

From: me [mailto:sales@adfsd.com]
Sent: 21 September 2012 10:52
To: Sophie Williams
Subject: Re: Further details on the publication

Hi Natalia/Sophie,
I regret to inform that we would not be able to work on this project.
There was a misunderstanding and I assumed that we would get paid for this work.
However talking today to Alex I come to know that we would have to pay you for this work.

Regards
Ajay

On 18/09/2012 08:39,  saf wrote:

Hi Natalia/Sophie,
Could you please provide me more details on the topic on which we have to write?

Also would it be possible to provide Mr. Willet’s article?

Regards

Ajay Kumar Singh

On 13/09/2012 13:23, Sophie Williams wrote:

Ajay,

Following our recent conversation, please find relevant form attached. Please print, sign in part 4 and email back with immediate effect. Thank you for your prompt attention and we look forward to working with you.

Best regards,

Natalia Barbah

C/O Sophie Williams

www.publicservice.co.uk

Publicservice.co.uk Ltd

Ebenezer House
Ryecroft
Newcastle-under-Lyme
Staffordshire ST5 2UB

Tel: +44 (0)1782 630200

Registered in England
Co. Reg No. 4521155
Vat Reg No. 902 1814 62

I gave them befitting reply and then decided to Google for their scam and luckily I immediately found out that they are indeed a scam. See these links below

http://www.andrewjaffe.net/blog/science/000475.html
http://www.gareth-jones.co.uk/2010/12/07/public-service-review/

Finally I busted them.

I sent them another Email and let them know above links with a a statement that they have messed up with wrong person this time and they are going to get busted. Which is exactly what I’m doing now.

publicservice.co.uk’s Modus Operandi

Based on my own personal experience and the comments on above 2 blogs here is publicservice.co.uk’s modus operandi.

Find the target

They search for new start up companies (at lest in my case) and do some research on that company to make sure that their target can easily be duped. Their targets are not just companies but also individuals.

Show them dreams

The next step involves calling these prospective clients from an unknown number and show them dream of a big business opportunity in Public sector. Anyone who is familiar with UK would know how easy it is to milk money UK public sectors and local governments.

Any business or individual will easily fall for such opportunity.

During the call they show all of their expertise in sales but pretend to be dumb in the subject for which they are targeting you. In my case they pretended to be completely dumb when it came to Mobile Phone App development and which I easily guessed they are pretending.

Force target to sign the contract

As I explained earlier this is the whole point of their scam to force target to sign the contract without reading the contract or seeing the terms. As you can see in the above one page document there is no mention of the original contract or the terms and conditions. If you read Emma’s ransom Email you will see that she mentioned that there is a terms available on the website.

This is really a lame and dumb way of forcing some one to threaten with a consequences on signing the contract. No sane court will even bother to listen to their claim should they decide to proceed to take legal action for signing a contract.

What a bunch of lame, lousy idiots.

7 days of cancellation clause

As per Emma’s email there is a clause in their terms and conditions which you can find on their website which state that if you want to break contract you have to send them notice in writing within 7 days of signing the contract.

And that is the reason that these thugs wouldn’t communicate with you within 7 days of contract. Immediately after passing of 7 days they would call you or communicate to take the matter further to screw money out of you as Alex did in my case.

Conclusion

publicservice.co.uk are bunch of 21st century sophisticated scammers who couldn’t be caught and put behind bars because they really don’t scam you in the way which can be classified heinous crime. They operate in white and remain in white. Their whole operation is based on letting people believe that they are working for public sector or for the government and sometime you might think that they are them self a public sector.

Stay away from them and inform the concerned authorities as soon as you hear from them.

Action I’m taking against publicservice.co.uk

1) Blog – I’ll keep this blog updated as soon as I have any progress to report.

2) Will write to Mr. David Willet

21 September 2012, 18:42: Wrote to Mr. David Willet informing  him of publicservice.co.uk and their misleading practices.. Let’s see if dear Minister would take notice of complaint in case it reaches his desk.

3) Will inform authorities to take these thugs out of business

Comments

9 Responses to “ publicservice.co.uk Scam – publicservice.co.uk Fraud ”
  1. a.smith

    All government phone numbers are withheld when phoning people, why if they had something to hide would they give you on email their proper phone number?

    If you, or anybody else, has proof you contacted them within 7 days, you do not have a problem, if you havent got proof then tough bloody luck.

    And somebody asking your origin is not racist, if they called you something nasty that would be racist.

    Get real!

    • Ajay

      “All government phone numbers are withheld when phoning people, why if they had something to hide would they give you on email their proper phone number?”
      They are not Govt. and they don’t send e-mail if you hang up.

      The only people who hide their numbers, accept Govt, are scammers, cold callers, recruitment consultants (some of the nasty ones) and rest of the filth of society.

      If you have a genuine business you wouldn’t hide your number. Would you?

      “And somebody asking your origin is not racist, if they called you something nasty that would be racist.”

      Trust me, change your accent to be thick Indian accent and be on the receiving side of the phone call and see what it feels like to be when this question is asked. I didn’t say they were racist. You don’t ask a French his origin, you don’t ask a German his origin, you don’t ask American his origin? Do you? But living in this country and doing business for past 8 years I know what it means when someone asks for the origin and what happens afterwards over the phone. I’m used to this, I don’t complain. I’ve great sense of humour which helps me to survive through these minor incidents.

      “Keep calm and carry on” is what keeps me going ;)

      And I’m real.

  2. jones

    dont give up ajay!

    • Ajay

      Me and give up? Never.

      Nice Bangkok story btw can imagine how it was when u were 18 yrs ;)

  3. Whistleblower

    Ajay – good luck with all this. If you haven’t already ask for a copy of the phone conversation you had with Sophie Williams. They record every single call. If you ask for it they are legally bound to give it to you. Advise them you will pass it to your lawyers.
    One other thing – this company used to be called Public Service Communication Agency. They were instructed by the government to change their name because it gave the appearance they were a public body, and was deliberately misleading. So they changed to PSCA International. In the last few years they have changed it to publicservive.co.uk and quite happily allow people to think they are a government agency – they never correct this assumption.
    If you have written to David Willets then all well and good but I think you would better served writing to some of the special advisors in Downing Street and to the Cabinet Office.
    Keep going and hopefully in time someone in a position of authority will make an effort to bring this scam and deceit to an end.

    • Ajay

      Tx mate for the encouragement.
      Yes I read about their name changes stuff on Andrew’s blog.

  4. Bensonx

    You have to take responsibility for reading the contracts that you sign, I have little sympathy for you.

    There is an old saying “you cannot con an honest man!”

    Advertising sales pitches like this only feed on your greed by inflating your ego. If you weren’t at all greedy or ready to believe that Her Majesties government ministers really had had an agency contact you personally to ask for your opinion and then publish it for the world to read- then you could never have been duped. Why did you think your opinion was so sought after? What did you have to back up this opinion?

    The paperwork you signed clearly stated the cost. It was not hidden in small print- you read it and signed it!

    Advertising is an impulse sale- ask anyone who has been in any type of business.

    I think it is more likely that you were tempted by the high profile readership and thought enquiries would come from it,what this could do for your reputation, and in a split second decision- no doubt provoked by the urgency the sales person put on getting this secured for you today (the same deal wont be on the table tomorrow sir for reasons: xyz etc) you decided to sign the document and agreed to the deal.

    Later, in the cold light of day you thought better of it and tried to get out of what you had committed to. Of course they are not going to let you off the hook that easily and here is why:

    Your complex assessment of their scam is too complicated and shows your paranoid vanity for what it is. You are completely wrong in guessing how they profiled you as a target. this is how it works:

    STEP 1:
    Each telesales person comes up with a story or article that is current and that they believe they could sell advertising around. They try to make sure the editorial will be informative and of interest to their readers(this company does actually produce the magazines and has a target audience).

    STEP 2:
    The telesales operative then begins cold calling businesses that they think might consider advertising around the content or who would pay to have their profile associated with it.

    I have been involved in advertising and marketing for nearly 20 years and assure you even the Financial Times, New Scientist etc.. use a similar process.

    For each article you see in their publications literally hundreds of firms will have been approached which exactly the same proposition (a good telesales person will get about 1 deal for every 300 telephone numbers dialed) Eventually some one like you says yes (because they are a bit greedy, like the idea of the publicity and being associated with the government- oddly the 2 things you seem to dislike about them the most! (pot calling the kettle black?).

    So for every one like you who feels they have been duped (or simply changed their minds once the excitement died down) there definitely are 100’s of businesses who made the decision not to proceed with the paid for publicity.

    These publications do actually have repeat advertisers who have been with them for years. All advertising is a gamble to some extent. But if you were on the roulette table at a casino and, in a weak moment, got carried away and lost £5k betting on black- you couldn’t go back the next day and say you’ve changed your mind and can you have the money back. This is no different.

    I offer independent, impartial advice to SME’s on their advertising and marketing spend. I am not actually an advocate of this company at all. Only in a very few specific circumstances would I consider placing adds in this type of publication -simply because I feel they are expensive for the exposure you get. But then that’s only my commercial opinion.

    I can buy a tin of Heinz Baked Beans for 30p in my local B&M. When I walk into Waitrose and see the same tin on sale for 85p I walk out empty handed but do not see that supermarket to be operating a scam.

    BUYER BEWARE is part of English law- no one forced you (as you claim) to sign the agreement. You can always so no to the sales person – in fact over 99% of people they approach do exactly that!

    You will not have any joy in the Courts- The Courts in England and Wales do not exist to help you reverse a bad commercial decision you have made.

    My advice to you in the future is to have an advertising and marketing strategy that you plan in advance and then stick to it.

    In the meantime, consider that if they take you to court they will win. Admit to your self that the conversation was not that unclear and that if the transcript ever gets printed it will show the sale person saying you will have to pay- even if they passed over the point and concentrated on how this opportunity was so well suited to you.

    HAGGLE HARD and get as much exposure for your money as you can. Try to get on their website for free and a regular spot in their publication for 1 year for no extra charge. Get them to reduce the fee (you dont seem to have even tried to negotiate their rates down, Publishers will almost always give discounts when you ask for them- the next 299 people they speak to wont even consider paying a penny!) Try to get some good out of it.

    Dont over estimate how seriously they will take this blogg. I have this company set on Google alerts- they get upto 15 new google listing a day! so this blogg will be deep down on the Google annals within weeks if not days.

    Remember- they are professionals, they have this same argument daily and win it all the time. Make it clear to them that this problem will not go away without it taking up a lot of their management time and effort. That this energy would be better spent converting you into a happy advertiser and that they have an awful lot of making up to do- which means many more appearances in their journals and articles on their website about you, until you feel you have had value for money.

    Advertising is almost always sold on impulse- but that is no reason for you to buy on impulse in the future.

    I write this response not to critise but to advise. What ever story you come up with I promise you they have heard it and dealt with it before. DONT GET ANGRY AT THEM it simply wont work. You need to take a more calculated approach.

  5. David

    Got a call from them, seemed pricey but to be fair, if they can deliver what they say they can then it’s not exorbitant. I happen to be acquainted with someone in the Forest of Dean district council who subscribes to public servant and says it’s a useful enough magazine, so presumably not a scam/con and besides which making sales calls is not a crime. I rely on my outbound sales team for business so I understand their proactive approach and I respect a salesperson who just asks for an order immediately.
    For the record, I spoke to Ian yesterday and despite declining, I left with a reasonably positive impression of him and the company. I felt he was clear, polite and at no time did I feel that I was being pushed unduly.

  6. andy w.

    The Sale of Goods and Services Act 1982 would certainly apply to any implied or emailed services promised that didn’t fulfil reasonable expectations (promises of reports on click through rates for email blitzes, Ads that weren’t the size or prominence that you were led to expect, despite the microscopic small print, that might not stand up to consumer law either, etc.)
    Good luck, keep fighting

Leave a Reply to jones