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Wiltshire businesses warned about national newspaper advertising scam

Wiltshire Police, along with the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, are warning of a scam targeting small businesses in the county.

The NFIB has been made aware of persons fraudulently offering to sell advertising while claiming to represent major newspapers.

The fraudsters impersonate journalists of well-known publications suggesting that advertorial space has become available at the last minute.

The scam advertisement is offered free of charge. However, an upfront payment is asked for to cover freelance writing costs.

Once the payment has been made, the offenders become impossible to contact and the advertorial is not provided.

Multiple identities, e-mail addresses, mobile telephone numbers and beneficiary bank accounts have been used by the offenders, who attempt to charge up to £700 per business.

Detective Sergeant Jon Lee, head of complex fraud said: “This is an underhand and callous way of fraudulently tricking people out of their hard-earned money. The offer of free advertising makes people believe that they are getting a good deal.

“In most cases, a genuine switchboard number for a national newspaper is offered but the e-mail address and mobile number given don’t relate to the genuine individual.

“I would urge all people who work for or own local businesses in Wiltshire to be vigilant in their approach to both this scam and others that currently exist.

“As highlighted at the recent Police and Crime Commissioner’s Business Crime Forum, if the offer sounds too good to be true, invariably it is.”

To report fraud against a business, contact Action Fraud via or on 0300 123 2040.