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Anti-scam website saved by MEP

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A Member of the European Parliament, Richard Corbett, has stepped in to save the anti-scam website www.stopecg.org - which was forced offline by legal threats to its service provider.

Server Centre, and its upstream supplier RapidSwitch, decided to pull the website after a flurry of legal notices from Birmingham solicitors Wragge & Co.

But Richard Corbett, Labour MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, is prepared to host the site for as long as necessary. Corbett has campaigned against Novachannel and European City Guides - both named on stopecg.org - for several years after complaints from his constituents.

A spokesman for Corbett, who's hard at work in the European Parliament today, said: "Richard has campaigned for three years against these kind of scammers and the website is a useful resource for people in Yorkshire. He has mirrored the site for the last two days and is happy to do so for as long as necessary." The spokesman said he thought it was less likely that lawyers would try and target an MEP.

Wragge and Co represent Novachannel AG - a Swiss-based company which is under investigation by Swiss authorities. The London Swiss embassy website mentions Novachannel on a page called "Unfair practices via Switzerland". The page advises companies on how to cancel contracts with the firm and says it is collecting evidence for an ongoing investigation by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

The SECO website, here. here, explains how NovaChannel operates: "Several Swiss companies exercise dubious business practices relating to business directory entries from bases in Switzerland. The forms in question usually give the impression that the entry is free. In actual fact, by completing and signing the form the persons concerned are concluding a contract running for several years."

UK businesses believe they are updating their contact details for a free directory rather than signing a contract to pay for as long as three years. The website - www.stopecg.org - has been running since 2001. The original campaign was against directory firm European City Guides but now covers several similar scams.

Many thanks to several Reg readers who offered to host the site.®

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