Canada's Competition Bureau targets listings scam

Thu Jul 28, 2011 12:13pm EDT
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TORONTO (Reuters) - Canada's Competition Bureau is seeking an injunction against five companies and three individuals who it says impersonated Yellow Media Inc's Yellow Pages Group in requests for information.

Companies across Canada responded to faxes branded with a logo similar to the Yellow Pages Group's trademark, the bureau said in a release. Businesses thought they were updating contact information, but fine print committed them to more than C$2,000 in fees.

"This scam has targeted thousands of businesses in Canada and around the world, forcing them to pay for a directory listing of little or no value," Commissioner Melanie Aitken said in the release.

It is not the first time the agency has targeted fine print. In June, BCE Inc's Bell Canada, the country's biggest phone company, agreed to pay a C$10 million penalty for advertising prices that did not include mandatory fees hidden in fine print disclaimers.

In an action filed before the Ontario Superior Court, the bureau requested more than C$11 million in penalties and restitution for victims of the alleged Yellow scam.

Canada's Competition Bureau enforces laws on competition and truth in advertising. Aitken, a tenacious former litigator, has proven herself willing to take on powerful interests.

The bureau will play an important role as Maple Group Acquisition Corp strives to take over Toronto stock market operator TMX Group. The Canadian bank-led consortium expects a decision on its hostile bid by October, although extensions are possible.

(Reporting by Allison Martell; editing by Janet Guttsman)