Have you received a letter from the “European Central Register for the Collection and Publication of VAT Registration Numbers”? Beware, it is a scam. German lawyer, Christian Solmecke of Wilde Beuger Solmecke explains.
After hundreds of businesses were duped by the notorious “yellow pages” cons, a new scam has emerged. This time German businesses receive a letter purporting to be from the “European Central Register for the Collection and Publication of VAT Registration Numbers”. The letter encourages the recipient to disclose his VAT registration number and even provides a link for doing so (http://www.ust-idnr.org/registrierung.html).
Fake register of VAT registration numbers
The scam lies in the small print. This contains numerous fraudulent clauses including: a yearly subscription fee of 900 euros, a two year contract duration and, in the case of early termination, an automatic extension of the contract by one year.
Through the use of references to the European Commission, the letter is given a professional appearance. Furthermore, recipients are given the impression that their businesses are obliged to be entered in the central European VAT number register. However, there is currently no official EU VAT register.
Defending against the scam
Recipients of these letters should be aware that they are not obliged to enter their businesses in the register. Any forms received with the letter should not be completed. If however, you have already applied for your business to be entered in the register, do not transfer any money. The operators of the supposed register should possess no legal right to payment.
Should payment have been made, a claim for restitution under §812 of the German Civil Code, should exist (see in particular §812 sub-paragraph 1 sentence 1, 1st alternative).
For those businesses which have already applied to be entered in the register, a supposed contract will have been entered. Possible legal options for countering any claims under the purported contract include claiming a contract does not exist, rescinding the contract on the grounds of fraudulent misrepresentation or objecting to the validity of the contract.
As the application forms to be entered in the register vary, it is import to develop a legal solution which is suitable for the specific claims being made. It is advisable to seek legal advice from an experienced lawyer.
Are you also a victim of the European Central Register for the Collection and Publication of VAT Registration Numbers? Our team of expert German lawyers can help you to defend against these claims. You can call us on 0221 / 951 563 0 (Beratung bundesweit).