“It’s sad to defraud small businesses”: the ghost magazine scam for the Olympics has taken its toll

“It’s sad to defraud small businesses”: the ghost magazine scam for the Olympics has taken its toll

Many complainants have reported abuses by the RCP company on specialized sites. MAXPPP – Lionel VADAM

Scammers sold advertising space to hundreds of small entrepreneurs for the ghost magazine Terre de J.O. supposedly for the tourists who will come for the Games. This is not the case and thousands of euros have been stolen. A business leader from Aude testifies. 

The commercial promise was enticing: take advantage of advertising inserts in a magazine intended for tourists present during the Olympic Games to promote the products, and at reduced prices. Weary! It was a scam that caused hundreds of victims, some of whom are still entangled in the affair today.

"Initially, several months ago, I was contacted by a sales representative from RCP Media, which deals with Terre J.O. 2024, a newspaper supposed to be intended for the economic fabric which will welcome the public during the Olympic Games", reports Pierre, an Audois who was targeted.

Pay 3000 € for 5 issues, the promise of a print run of 120,000 copies

"There was to be a paper edition of 120 000 copies and distributed in all sectors of the hotel, catering, and other services sectors. The person told me on the phone: "I selected you because your company offers a quality product, we have selected  the best of French gastronomy". She even told me that my innovation would be on the front page."

So, Pierre allowed himself to be convinced that such a publication selling wines, spirits, cheeses and other charcuterie and desserts from Occitanie but not only that, among prestigious brands , would be a plus for its activity.

The call price ? He must pay 3 000 € for five issues, one per season, until summer 2024, with a beautiful advertising page promised each time. He negotiates to first pay 1,000 euros; and wants to have the publication sent to him.

But it's dragging. Another person with another number then tells him that printing is imminent. But it does not arrive but, on the other hand, a third interlocutor asks him to pay the 2,000 euros. He receives a digital version, which turns out to be an edit.

"Two months later, I receive an invoice for 36,000 €"

In the meantime, the sales representative of the entrepreneur Audois paid 3600 €.

"And two months later, I receive an invoice for 36 000 €, corresponding to twelve times 3000 &euro ;, because it was written in very small letters that the contract would be renewed for twelve publications !" continues Pierre. Who, understanding the scam, realizes that RPC media is an empty shell, almost unreachable with a closed bank account. He filed a complaint with the gendarmerie and, through insistence with the crooks, he obtained a start of reimbursement.

"But the girl called me again later, asking me to pay !" deplores Pierre, jaded that nothing can be done against these crooks.

A site specializing in scams lists testimonials from other people affected. They are edifying. "I was a victim of their deceptive practice with attempted intimidation" said one who paid several thousand euros.

"I got scammed, I'm disgusted"

"The company harassed me for invoice reminders… When will they stop ?" another asks.

"I was scammed, I never received a copy of Terre de J.O…. It's very well organized because we worked on it with a graphic designer, everything seemed normal" testifies a third, disappointed: "It’s really sad to defraud small French businesses under the guise of highlighting them for the Olympic Games, I am disgusted."

Not to mention that other complainants, winegrowers in particular, mention other scams with RCP Media, but with other publications, on housing or on gastronomy , a little older, a sign that the aigrefins are adapting to current events to perpetuate their fraud.

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