Sunday, January 17, 2010


Maiwolf Management AG in Liquidation

One of the pivotal companies in the former Ludenbach empire, Maiwolf Management AG is finished. In June 2009 the company was one of several raided by the Swiss police, now it has been wound up.

Way back in the 90s Ludenbach established 2 companies to oversee the empire of sham guides and collection companies, these were Maiwolf Holding (in St. Gallen) and Maiwolf Management (in Zug), between them these companies directly controlled the guides Construct Data Verlag, European City Guide and Novachannel AG as well as Debt collector Ovag AG.

In his article of September 2005 where Christian Bütikofer finally named Lüdenbach as the man behind the scams he pointed out that the name Maiwolf was almost certainly a play on Ludenbach's given name of Meinolf.

The names on the company board at the time of Liquidation, Rudolf Keller and Dr. Heinz Mäusli are a throwback to the very early days of the industry, Mäusli had already achieved some notoriety as a lawyer, defending far right extremists and racists and is well known in his native Switzerland; both these men must now be in their twilight years and are unlikely to play any further role.

I encourage you to read Christian's articles to gather a greater understanding of the huge complexity of the international network of companies set up to run these scams which enabled operators to jump jurisdictions whenever the risks became to high. While the names of the guides and the straw men who front them may be different in 2010 the modus operandi remains the same and in the shadows there are still many companies and individuals who operate in secret, ensuring that the scams can cross borders and be put beyond the reach of national law enforcers.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009


Good News for British NHS Doctors affected by med1web / TEMDI

Over the last few weeks stopECG and other organisations have received messages from UK based medical practitioners affected by Med1web who have been suddenly released from the claimed contracts.

The reason given by United Directories Lda is that these people are part of the UKs National Health service (NHS). We do not know the reasons for United’s change of heart but this is certainly good news for many people in the UK who are in dispute the directory.

UK practitioners who are with the NHS and in dispute with United as a result of signing forms mailed under the names med1web or TEMDI should reply to letters of demand noting that they are NHS Registered and asking for the contract to be annulled.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009


Defeat At The Highest Level

Novachannel AG has rarely been out of the news this year, and again and again it has been condemned for its business practices. Today’s news is actually the culmination of a story that has gone on since 2006.

In that year the Swiss secretariat (SECO) brought civil a case against Novachannel based on unfair competition they, quickly won in the lower courts with Novachannel ordered to cease mailing the deceptive contracts. As is almost always seen with these guides, Novachannel appealed, first to the district court and finally to Switzerland’s Supreme Court; appealing allowed them to continue mailing the forms and to continue to rake in the cash, the income almost certainly outweighed the legal costs.

You can read SECO’s press release here: English | German | Italian | French

While appealing may have made financial sense in the short term by getting this case into such a high court, Novachannel may have dealt a fatal blow to the Ludenbach model of deceptive form. SECO’s case appears to have painted a fairly broad picture of the scam and the overall layout of the form. This is very important because it has been a ruse of guides to draw courts into detail and then to simply produce a variant of the form which addresses these minor details. In such instances prosecutors are forced to return to court while all the time the guide is making money. There has also been a risk of stalemate, where a form would emerge which still mislead but where legal channels to prevent it became exhausted.

Switzerland’s laws are closely aligned to those of the EU countries so this case will resonate in countries like Spain, Portugal and Germany where associated guides continue to operate. Indeed the laws in these countries are often stricter than those in Switzerland, they just need to be implemented! Now we have a very significant ruling showing that this form of deception can be stopped by civil action.

Of course for Novachannel and the company’s former CEO Michael Rowe it does not end here, there is still a huge criminal investigation into the activities of the former Ludenbach companies. Also The Portuguese company, United Directories bought many of Novachannels disputed contracts and has continued to harass victims from outside Switzerland

Christian Bütikofer has published information on the court case in the Swiss Newspaper Tages Anzeiger (Scan below) In the article he goes on to flag up the new Portuguese outfit which is being fronted by a certain Debora Schaer (Schär). He cites anonymous sources who state that she previously worked for Micael Rowe of Novachannel as a secretary, if this is verified it will cast significant doubt on the assertion that United has no link with Novachannel.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009


Are UNITED Directorios, Lda Expanding their operations?

United Directories based in Lisbon, Portugal bought many of the disputed contracts of Novachannel AG a company forced into liquidation in Switzerland and currently the subject of a huge criminal investigation in that country. (See This Blog tomorrow for some important Analysis of Novachannels recent loss before the Swiss Supreme Court)

The contracts in question related to the medical directory, med1web and were of the classic misleading format that has become known as the Ludenbach style after the man behind many of the companies that have used this layout.

Staff at United Directories were left in no doubt by frustrated victims of the Novachannel scam that the contracts were subject to the Swiss code of obligations, and were void due to their deceptive nature, this did not stop United from writing aggressive letters demanding payment and threatening legal action, nor did it stop them from contriving their own, very similar contacts which were mailed from Portugal and are now also the subject of dispute.

Recently med1web have been fairly quiet, with few complaints received, usually an indication with such guides of legal problems or of an ongoing project that is using resources; now the next stage may be evident.

In October a few complaints appeared online about forms from a guide calling itself The European Medical Directory – the complaints note that a price is inferred and that the contracts are misleading (StopECG has not yet seen these contracts to assess the complaints)

Some research has revealed that the directory does exist, calling itself The European Medical Directory (TEMDI) with a website at

Although the website was registered using a company that allows the owner to remain anonymous a quick look at reveals the following contact information

UNITED Directorios, Lda
Av. Joao Crisostomo 38c
1050-127 Lisbon

Telephone +351 211 148 777
Fax +351 211 148 755


Commercial – Register 508'829'402
VAT - No. 508'829'402

Digging a little deeper the following unused domains can be found, registered using the same Anonymous Registration service and hosted at the same IP address of

It appears an American Medical Directory is planned and possibly an American Directory of Patents and Marques

On the very next IP block of and again using the same Anonymous Registration service is just one domain
Could it be that a new debt collection outfit is on the way?

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Monday, August 24, 2009


Novachannel AG in Liquidation

Scam guide operator Novachannel AG has been put into liquidation continuing the process of closing down the Swiss hub of former the Ludenbach guide empire.

Novachannel started its life providing video chat and other services associated with the porn industry but with the liquidation in Lichtenstein of the Tour and Travel Guide which had scammed the tourist industry for many years the need within the guide industry arose for a new operation. Many addresses from the Tour and Travel guide were simply transferred to the new Novachannel database and Tourist Directory was born.

Novachannel was notable for its aggressive litigation against those who dared to criticise the company, litigation that usually went disastrously wrong, When Michael Plumpe, a German citizen described the operation as ‘mafia like’ Novachannel sued, bringing the case in Switzerland, after spending substantial amounts of money they lost with the courts agreeing with Plumpe.

StopECG was also attacked with various ISPs hosting the site receiving lawyers letters, but before litigation could commence the intervention of the British press and MEP Richard Corbett lead to substantial unwanted publicity and the publishing of Ludenbach’s photo in the media.

People who previously worked for Novachannel still work for Eye-net Gmbh in Germany which runs a defamation forum were Novachannel boss Michael Röwe used to post personal attacks. The current fate of Röwe is not known but he is believed to be amongst those arrested in Switzerland.

For victims of the tourist directory it is all over, expect no more demands for money. Another Former Novachannel Guide, Med1web continues to trade from Portugal and appears to be in the process of expanding its operation while a further guide the Yachting Almanac which was displayed on Novachannels website was still born with no contracts or demands ever mailed

Expect a new guide targeting the tourist industry to appear with forms ever-so-slightly different to those used by Novachannel.

If you used to work for Novachannel StopECG would be interested in hearing from you, even if your work was transient or part-time employment such as translation. You can get in contact by mailing your information will be treated in confidence.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Important Swiss article on the Directory Scams

Journalist Christian Bütikofer has done a great deal of research into the directory scam industry and Yesterday stopECG published an English translation of his latest article which came out in the Swiss Newspaper Tages Anzeiger

Here are added a few notes on the content of the article

Under the headline Systematic challenge of Court decisions it is noted that the guides use a ruse whereby they can continue to trade as long as condemnations are under appeal, of course such laws are there to protect us but with the scam guides it is standard fare to take appeals all the way to the highest court and to drag out the legal process. Thus the ECG’s fine and condemnation of September 2003 was not finally confirmed until April 2008

Similarly Construct Data appeared to agree before the Austrian court to cease demands for money against those who had signed the companies trick contracts, only to circumvent the agreement and continue to rake in money for another year. By the time Austrian law finally closed in on Construct Data an almost identical company had appeared in Mexico

In Switzerland Bütikofer has discovered that Novachannel were condemned in 2008 but that they simply appealed and continued to trade unabated. The appeals gave Novachannel time to do a mass mailout on behalf of its Med1web directory, then before the final police raids the disputed contracts were simply sold to a Portuguese company.

As well as the widely reported penalties against the ECG Bütikofer has uncovered the penalties against Novachannel in Switzerland and a whole string of fines in Italy which brings the total known fines incurred by the Ludenbach guides since 2003 to around 1,000,000 Euros. The actual fines are almost certainly dwarfed by the legal costs of appealing them, these figures give a window on how much money is at stake.

The article also exposes how Intercable Verlag sold its disputed contracts to a Hungarian company. Central European Advertising Kft. (CEA Kft) The ownership of the new outfit is hidden through a holding company called Central European Advertising LLc based in Delaware, USA.

Under the heading Mud attack against Seco The article draws together previously reported links through the pornography industry between the scam guides and the German company Eye-Net GmbH which hosts a forum used to defame anyone who dares to stand up to the guides. The posts that named Seco staff have been removed but a huge body of content remains on the forum, and the account used to defame Seco is still active

CEA.Kft appeared at the very end of 2008, it remained unnoticed until May 2009 when it purchased the disputed contracts of scam guide Intercable Veralg AG. These disputed contracts and the subsequent demands for money when people signed them in error had resulted in a criminal investigation against Intercable in Switzerland. Just over a month after unloading the contracts to CEA, Intercable was raided, staff arrested and the company put into liquidation.

In addition to the information in the article stopECG can reveal that an Intercable related company that was only recently established, VS Verlag Service is also in liquidation. This company had as one of its board members a former long-term employee of Intercable Veralg.

Prior to liquidation they were looking for personnel and wrote that their main customer was to be a publishing house in Hungary.

Below are some addresses for persons in dispute with CEA Kft, they're reproduced here because some of the Hungarian characters corrupt on the stopECG website. For full advice please visit stopECGs page on CEA Kft

Mayor of Budapest

Mr. Gábor Demszky Mayor
Városház u. 9-11, 1052,

tel : +36 1 3271038
fax : + 36 1 3271809
Contact person: Ms. Maria Tomanek

Office of International Relations

Office of International Relations,
H-1052 Budapest,
Varoshaz u.9-11.

tel: +36 1 3271075/76
fax:+36 1 3271807/82

General Inspectorate for Consumer Protection

General Inspectorate for Consumer Protection
(Fogyasztóvédelmi Fofelügyeloség)
1088 Budapest,
József krt. 6.


Hungarian Police

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Intercable Verlag AG and Premium recovery AG in Liquidation

Today it has become apparent that the above companies are being wound up, such news is not formally announced but the status of these companies has changed in the Swiss company registers.

You can see the status of Intercable Verlag here and Premium Recovery Here

Although the page is in German you can see the names of the directors scored out and the Liquidators appointed at the end of the list. Some of the names associated with Intercable are men who have been involved with the scam guide industry for many years, but none of them has been around as long as the company itself. Below is a brief obituary for these 2 companies.

Intercable Verlag was the oldest guide in the group, it can be traced back as far as 30 years to the genesis if the scam guide industry in Hamburg. This liquidation will ring loud in the ears of Mienolf Ludenbach for it was back in Hamburg that he worked for Intercable and quite possibly there that he learned the trade he would in time turn into a global industry.

Years later he would buy the company that had once employed him and would move the base of operations to Switzerland. For many years Intercable continued to use the original method of sending salespeople to target companies these salespeople would dupe persons into signing contracts that they believed related to a free listing. The arrival of many former soviet bloc countries in the EU provided the perfect opportunity for Intercable, trick forms were mailed in huge numbers with wording that made it easy for recipients to confuse them with an offer relating to a Swiss fund to assist companies in the new EU member states. Add to that the fact that the forms were mailed in English and many recipients were bamboozled into signing. The Swiss Government was forced to issue at least one warning about this trick.

Not surprisingly when people were invoiced for their listings in Intercable's near worthless directory they refused to pay. Many banded together to expose the scam. In spite of all this Intercable then went to court to enforce the disputed contracts, not as the contracts stated, under Swiss law but in the counties where their victims lived. As the original contracts had been mailed in English Intercable conveniently provided translations to the courts with all the misleading aspects of the contract layout removed, the outcome was that they won some cases and were able to use these to bludgeon other victims into paying. Whereas most of the guides persuade less than 20% of their victims to actually pay Intercable was getting close to 100%.

After StopECG broke the news of the police raids last month it became a major story in the 2 worst affected nations, (the Czech Republic and Sovakia). On some Czech News bulletins it was the top story of the day! Video 1 Video 2

Alas Intercable has sold the disputed contracts and there have been some new attempts to enforce them; more on this tomorrow.

Premium Recovery was a newcomer, Established to take over the business formerly managed by Ovag international AG it appears that the sole purpose of the Premium Recovery was to terrorise victims of several scam guides into paying. Masquerading as a international Debt Collection agency it employed mainly foreign staff to harass guide victims in their own language. Staff were offered substantial bonuses for bringing in disputed debts and a no-holes-barred culture appeared to exist in how far they could go to intimidate people. As far as we know Premium Recovery never took anyone who refused to pay to court they but almost always threatened legal action, often looking up the names of local courthouses on the Internet and then naming them in letters and faxes.

In the pressure cooker atmosphere of Premiums offices it was not unusual for staff to become threatening and abusive on the phone. Few will rue the demise Premium Recovery!

At the same time as Premium Recovery was established a similar Debt collection outfit, Gravis Inkasso was set up in Austria. Gravis has not been subject to the law enforcement activities in Switzerland but it does appear to have ceased all activity related to the scam guides. Indeed at present it appears that the guides of the Ludenbach stable are without a debt collection company, this may not last. Expect the surviving guides get themselves a new company soon, I would predict that any such company will probably appear in a Latin speaking nation such as Spain or Portugal or perhaps South America.

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