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Fraudulent events - Be aware

A few times a year caterers get in touch with NCASS to tell us that they've been contacted directly by 'event organisers' with some very dubious events.

Sometimes caterers tell us that they've actually fallen prey to advance-fee fraud during a pitch application process. In these situations, what usually happens is that 'events' are run by alleged limited companies with seemingly legitimate websites. The people behind the scam have lured traders into applying for a pitch with payment up front, only for the traders to find that the events are fictitious and their money is gone.

Illicit activities like these leave caterers in a horrible position where they're unlikely to see that money again. One way to lessen the likelihood of this ever happening to you is to carry out these pracautionary checks when booking events.

1. Have you or anyone you know heard of the organiser?

If the organiser seems to have appeared out of thin air, alarm bells should be ringing. You need to do more research to find out exactly who they are.

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 a new one.

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 take place?

Have you called the venue hosting the event to make sure they're aware that it's taking place? The venue should be able to tell you if the event exists and what stage its planning is at. They should also be able to tell you how many people are really expected at the event; if that figure differs from what the organiser quoted, you need to ask the organiser why there's a discrepancy.

5. Does the event have a licence?

All events should be licensed by the local council licensing office. They should be able to tell you whether a licence is pending or has already been granted. They should also be able to tell you how many people the event is licensed for.

6. Does the event company exist?

Have you checked out the company on the Companies House website? If they do exist you can use Companies House to view how long they've been trading, who the directors are and even where the company is based. Be cautious about any company that has been recently set up or hasn't filed any accounts yet.

7. Have you been offered a contract?

If you don't get a contract that specifies the terms of the deal between you and the organiser, you'll find it hard to take legal recourse. A contract should confirm the number of caterers trading at the event as well as the food they'll be selling, and your payment terms and fees.

8. Will the organiser commit any promises to paper?

If they'll promise you something over the phone but won't commit anything to paper when you ask, can you really expect this to be a legitimate offer? As Samuel Goldwyn once said, "Verbal contracts aren't worth the paper they're written on".

Still think it's dodgy? Report it to NCASS.

NCASS keeps records of all complaints against event organisers. If you give us some evidence to do so, we'll always investigate the event and the organiser to help protect you from fraud. If you're an NCASS member in the horrid situation where you've already been had, we'll put you straight in touch with our legal team and they'll advise you on any legal recourse you might have.

NCASS is on your team.

If you'd like to discuss a potentially fraudulent event or speak to a legal team, please consider joining NCASS. We work tirelessly to protect our caterers against situations like these and we'd love to do the same for you. And you'll receive so many other benefits that once you've been with us for a year you'll forget why you ever weren't a member. Call NCASS on 0121 603 2524 to join today.

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