Birmingham-based leading membership organisation, The Nationwide Caterers Association (NCASS) warn mobile caterers to be extra vigilant when booking events, as reports to NCASS of fictitious events are on the rise.
Alan Fox, Director of NCASS, comments; “We have been contacted by a number of our members who have been approached directly by ‘event organisers’ with some very dubious looking events.”
Several caterers reported have fallen prey to advance-fee fraud, where the events run by alleged limited companies with seemingly legitimate websites, have lured them into applying for a pitch with payment up front only to find the events are fictitious. NCASS is concerned that members might hand over money for deposits on such scam events and advise all caterers to carry out the following precautions when making event bookings.
How to Spot a potentially scam event
1. Have you or anyone you know heard of the organiser? It should ring alarm bells if the organiser seems to have appeared out of thin air…you need to do further checks before handing over money
2. Have you heard of the event? While new events crop up every year that are perfectly legitimate, a fraudulent event will almost always be new.
3. Does it sound too good to be true? It usually is! Look out for claims about large crowds or premium acts in their first year of trading.
4. Is the venue aware of the event due to be taking place? Have you called the venue of the event to see if they are aware of the event? They should be able to tell you if it exists and what stage of planning the event is at, they can also tell you how many people they expect at the event, does it differ from the figures quoted by the organisers?
5. Does the event have a licence? All events should be licensed by the local council office. They should be able to tell you whether they have granted a licence or if one is pending. They should also be able to tell you how many people the event is licensed for.
6. Does the events company exist? Have you checked for them on the companies’ house website? If they do exist, you can see how long they have been trading, who the directors are, even where the company is based. Be cautious about any company that has been recently set up or has not filed accounts yet.
7. Have you been offered a contract? If you don’t get a contract specifying the terms of the deal between you and the organiser, you will find it difficult to take legal recourse. It should confirm the number of caterers and what they will be selling, your payment terms and fees.
8. Will they commit any promises to paper? If they can promise you something over the phone, why won’t they commit it to paper if it is a legitimate offer? As Samuel Goldwyn once said “verbal contracts aren’t worth the paper they’re written on”
9. Have you reported it to NCASS? We keep records of all complaints against organisers and if provided with evidence, investigate the event and organiser. You can also speak to our legal advice line for help if you have been caught out and they can advise you on any legal recourse you may have.