Scottish Businesses Told "Don't Sign, Don't Get Caught Out"

21 January 2009
SNP MEP for Scotland Alyn Smith has welcomed the publication of a European Parliament investigation into misleading business practices which, in particular, deals with the ongoing "European City Guide" scam.

The investigation was carried out after Smith, along with several colleagues, raised concerns over the practices of these businesses to the European Parliament.

Mr Smith has seen a number of cases of Scots businesses being caught out, and has long called for strict criminal penalties for the fraudsters as currently they are only subject to civil penalties, depending upon the jurisdiction. In November 2008, he launched a campaign to make Scots businesses aware of the dangers under the slogan "Don't sign, don't get caught out". He has published advice on his website, in order to warn other businesses of the dangers.

The investigation has recommended strong penalties on those caught trading in this manner, as well as greater emphasis on helping cross-border investigations within the European Union.

Smith said:

"This inquiry has finally provided member states with a shot of clarity which was desperately needed on this topic. The legal situation has been anything but clear so clarification on issues such as cross-border cooperation and the position of SMEs has to be welcomed.

"I am particularly pleased that the report has taken seriously the call for criminal sanctions on the fraudsters. It is absolutely right that Europol carries out a detailed investigation into the practices and I hope that this will lead to charges being brought against those behind this scam.

"However, the best advice remains to avoid being caught out at all, and so I urge my constituents to have a read over the guidance published on my website and, if in doubt, not to sign anything until they are sure that it is bona fide."