Business costs con warning

Deals offering large savings of money are often too good to be true

Deals offering large savings of money are often too good to be true

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A PROMINENT Fife businessman is warning others in the business community to avoid dealings with a rogue ‘expense reduction consultant’.

The businessman, who has asked not to be named, told the Mail he had been contacted by a Stewart Kennedy, who offered to reduce his costs, such as business rates and water charges, in return for a fee.

But he believes the caller was a Stewart Kennedy, who was involved in two Glasgow-based debt management review companies, Cost Reduction Services (2010) Ltd and Cost Reduction Services (UK & NI).

Both these companies were wound up in January 2012 in the public interest by Edinburgh’s Court of Session, following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.

Since then, there have been reports of Kennedy cold-calling businesses in different parts of Scotland, offering his financial services.

The businessman contacted in this case decided to speak out after being told in one phone call Kennedy was currently focusing on the Fife area.

The businessman said: “I received three or four calls from a company claiming to reduce costs such as business rates, water charges etc.

“Basically, he charges up-front fees and says he will go and chase up benefits. My fee would have been £8000.

“He also wanted to take a third of the savings in the first year.”

In another call from woman, he was told that a seminar was being held for local businesses at Raith Rovers’ Stark’s Park in Kirkcaldy. Although it is understood Kennedy did contact the football club, Rovers have confirmed no such seminar is booked to take place at the ground.

The businessman added: “At the beginning of the calls, he introduced himself as being from ‘Expense Reduction’.

“There is a reputable company called Expense Reduction Analysts, which I’ve dealt with in the past, and I think he was trying to give the impression he worked for it.”

The businessman has raised his concerns with his own trade association and said he wanted to speak out to warn other business owners in Fife.

Fife Council’s trading standards service this week said it had not received any complaints about Kennedy or been notified of any concerns.

It added any concerns should be reported to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre, either online at www.actionfraud.co.uk or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Geoff Bates, Fife Council service manager protective services, said: “An essential part of stopping fraudsters is to make sure these incidents are reported to Action Fraud. Whether you’ve lost money or not, we want to know what’s happened. All information is good information when it comes to tracking down those responsible.”