A company that scammed more than £500,000 by pretending to be part of Google has been wound up in the High Court.
Manchester-based Movette "misrepresented" itself by claiming either to be an affiliate of the Silicon Valley giant or that it worked on its behalf, managing the 'Google My Business' listings.
The company also "falsely stated or implied" that customers would lose their existing services from Google if they did not pay up.
Movette charged a fee of between £199 and £249 for a 12 month contract, which automatically renewed. It ignored or rejected requests for contracts to be cancelled and used "offensive and threatening" debt collection methods. Its financial records showed that it had received £537,00 during its two-and-a-half year trading history.
An investigation found that a "significant volume of complaints" had been made against Movette to regulatory bodies such as Action Fraud and Trading Standards.
Movette used the trading styles of ‘Online Content Management Services’ and ‘OCMS’ and operated the same or a very similar business to Online Platform Management Consultants, which was wound up in April 2015 on the grounds that it "operated against the public interest".
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. These proceedings show that the Insolvency Service will take firm action against companies which operate in this manner.
"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."