Wound up consultancy Movette caught red handed posing as Google

11 August 2017 Consultancy.uk

Movette, a Manchester-based consultancy firm which misrepresented itself as Google when selling a service, has been wound up in the High Court. The IT consultancy firm was dissolved after an investigation by the Insolvency Service found it "pretended to be Google" to fraudulently make over £500,000.

Incorporated on 25 September 2013 before trading from New Mount Street, Manchester, online consulting firm Movette has been wound up under the Insolvency Act 1986, by the UK High Court. The company was liquidated after a court investigation found Movette had been the subject of a significant volume of complaints to regulatory bodies such as Action Fraud and Trading Standards during its two-and-a-half year trading history.

The complaints, which accused the firm of misleading customers by implying it represented, or was affiliated to internet giants Google, together with information gathered from customers during the investigation, established that the company had no such relationship. The probe also discovered Movette had falsely stated or implied that customers would lose their existing services from Google if payment was not made to the company, while also using “offensive and threatening” debt collection methods.

Wound up merchants Movette caught red handed posing as Google

Movette had sold a service to manage the online ‘Google My Business’ listings of its customers, a service which it charged a fee of between £199 and £249 for a 12 month contract. The company’s financial records showed it received fees totalling £537,000 over their two year life-span.

This was not the first instance of fraudulent behaviour from the outfit however. The company used the trading styles of ‘Online Content Management Services’ and ‘OCMS’ in order to continue a similar business model from one previously carried on by Online Platform Management Consultants, which was also wound up on 13 April 2015 on the grounds that it operated against the public interest.

Commenting on the case, Colin Cronin, Investigation Supervisor with the Insolvency Service, said: “Movette used deceptive methods to persuade customers to sign up for its service, including stating or implying that it represented or was connected to Google. The company then made it difficult for customers to extract themselves from rolling contracts and used debt collection methods which were coercive and intimidatory.”

Cronin went on to warn that while these proceedings show that the Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies which operate in this manner, companies and individuals should try to insulate themselves from losses to fraudulent businesses trying to take advantage of a service Google does not actually charge for. He concluded, “I would urge any business which is contacted by cold-call and invited to sign up for a Google My Business listing to make full enquiries into the service being offered before entering into any agreement. Google My Business is, in fact, a free service which allows businesses to enter and update information with the intention of marketing themselves to users of the search engine.”

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