Sunday, January 13, 2008


WARNING: United Media s.r.o / World Telecommunications Directory

Almost a year ago I reported on a misleading advert mailed within the UK

The concern I voiced then was that the form looked like an invoice and that it would be possible for medium to large companies that did not use strict auditing of invoices to pay the amount under the misapprehension that it was a due bill.

Well take a look at this:

I was sent a scan of this last week by a former victim of the ECG who is of course now very wise to potentially misleading adverts. 2 Days later one arrived at an address where I work. I did a very unscientific test and took the form into some local shops. All the younger shop workers assumed it was a bill, only one, older, shopkeeper spotted that it is in fact an advert.

This is a serious problem, as companies grow the process of ordering goods/services can become separated from the payment of invoices. It is in such circumstances that a document like this could be sent to Accounts/Payments and unwittingly paid. Perhaps as many as 1 in 100 larger companies pay unsolicited invoices in error!

Worse is to come…

Above are the terms and conditions from the reverse. Point one states: “This offer becomes an irrevocable and binding contract upon payment or Authorisation, which at the same time implies a full acceptance of the following terms and conditions.”

Those following terms state that unless written cancellation is received you will be added to the next edition and invoiced accordingly, but of course you are unaware of your entry so are unlikely to cancel, when, next year the invoice arrives it will presumably be a proper invoice, not a misleading advert and it will go to accounts and be paid. Unless checks are brought in and all past invoices audited you could go on paying these bills indefinitely!

Do you manage a medium to large company? Then PLEASE check that you have in place a proper system to check that all invoices paid are for things you actually ordered. It is as simple as ensuring that all orders placed by your staff have a reference and that accounts must not pay any invoice they cannot tie to your ordering history. Most accounting software will have the facility to easily add such a check.

If you find that your system is not currently foolproof, please check all existing outgoings to ensure that companies like United Media s.r.o. have not accidently found their way into your accounts. Please also send this blog entry to any associates you think might benefit from the advice above.

If you find that your company has been paying United Media s.r.o or any similar directory company in error stopECG would be very interested in having copies of your communications with them for our archive. Please send scans.

If you work at a large company and receive a form like this

1) Draw it to the attention of management
2) Mark it clearly 'UNSOLICTIED NOT TO BE PAID'
3) Send it to Accounts/Payments with the advice that it be circulated so all staff are aware of such adverts. Other names to look out for include (List is far from complete)

International Trade and Business Database
International Yellow Pages World Trade and Business Directory
International Yellow Pages & Fax Directories on Internet and CD ROM
International Business & Trade Database (World Telecommunications Directories) IT & T Ag International Business Directories
UTP Digital Directories

Transworld Business and Buyers Directories
World Telecommunications Database International Trade and Business Directory
World Trade and Business Directory

Got a form that is not on this list? Please send it!

More about United Media s.r.o.
The info below represents very basic research, StopECG will follow this up with a full page if this company continues to mail forms we consider misleading.

The Name World Telecommunications Directory is new, but the form is very similar to one mailed using the name International Business & Trade Database. Here’s an example from 2002.

According to the Company registers United Media s.r.o. has been trading since 1994

Their database can be found at
However when we tried to access it the search function did not work

From one of their alternate websites
It is possible to see the database entries by selecting a country from the drop down menu, what you get is an alphabetical listing served up in pages of 10. For the UK alone they have 1178466 entries, that means 117847 pages of results but you cannot navigate to a selected page number, or search the listings meaningfully. There is also no indication that companies who have paid are getting anything extra for their £371. Based on the current state of the database a listing there will be next to worthless.

Some Press coverage on the company (StopECG is not responsible for the wording of external sites)

Companies warned over invoice con (BBC)
Firms warned to watch out for scams (York Press)
Internal Audit- Fraudulent Invoices (University of Kent)

To recieve occasional warnings about scams and tricks affecting the business community send a blank email to:

Jules Woodell

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