I have recently been exposed to a number of catalogue marketing scams, which have their origins in La Belle France. The company in question is called Mail Concept Plus, and they peddle their wares through post boxes in both England and Scotland.

The scam offers a substantial cash prize if the player fills out the relevant form and answers a multiple choice question, which is very straightforward. For example, does honey comes from: A: Bees; B: Bats; or C: Chickens? Doh!

So far, so good!  But the purpose of the scam is to persuade the lucky player to purchase goods from the enclosed catalogue.  These vary according to the supplier.  I have identified four so far, and to assist you in spotting the scams, they come from My Shopping Corner, Vital Nature, Phyderma and Elisa Jewels.  No doubt there are others out there.

Although the scammers make it clear (in very small print) that no purchase is required to participate in the prize offer, they make it abundantly clear that a minimum purchase of £30 will speed the delivery of your cash prize, usually within 14 days. And guess what?

A few days later, another letter, with another catalogue and another promise of a cash prize, hits your doormat, and so it goes on until the last syllable of recorded time.

I want to be fair to these scammers, so if anybody reading this article has participated in these promotions and has actually won a substantial cash sum, please get in touch and I will publish a retraction, but I won’t be holding my breath.

For those of you wanting further and better particulars, a duo of journalists from the Mirror group investigated these scams as long ago as 2008, and their results can be found online using this link:



The Mirror Group invited the Office of Fair Trading to take action, but they haven’t, so no surprises there.


These scams show no signs of abating, so forearmed is forewarned.  As they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true!

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David is an English barrister, writer, public performer and keynote speaker. His full profile can be found on his website.

33 thoughts on “FALSE PROMISES”

  1. My elderly Dad is being conned by these people. He refused to believe me when I tell him. He thinks he’s buying me a car next week with his ‘winnings’. This needs to stop. I don’t know where to turn. He’s list all his savings to these scammers and is struggling to make ends meet.

  2. My mother-in-law has been sending money to these scamsters for years. She lost her husband recently and I decided enough was enough, persuaded her to have her mail redirected to my address and I can’t believe how many obvious scam letters she gets (she’s not getting them now, they go straight in my shredder!)

  3. I think these people are taking people for a ride I agree all the stuff is really expensive and besides they never kept their promises so spending all that money and postage is a rip off and it should be refunding all the money to the people in this situation.

  4. I to have been conned but now I believe that there will never be a cheque.
    They are very clever with their wording. One week you are a Grand winner then they keep sending more rubbish about having to have to order something again to have the prize deed released. Last week I sent off another order to have the winning cheque. Today I received a voucher for £1.50 to spend on
    another order form. I even sent them a recorded delivery to get the order to them the next day. I feel such a fool but it must have to stop. I have saved
    my orders from Vital Nature , Phyderma, Gourmet moments and Home shopping. I hope someone will catch these people for all who has been conned
    surely this is fraud of some kind.

  5. I found a goodway of getting my own back on these people.
    Just send their details back to their address but do not put
    a stamp on the envelope. If they think that there is money
    in the envelope they will accept the excess payment charge
    for an ‘unstamped’ envelope

  6. I have received three letters and catalogues in the last four days from different people who assure me I have won a total of £180,000 in all The old saying’ if it sounds too good to be true it probably is’ comes to mind. I sent off last year an order for some stuff, which was useful I must confess, with the assurance I would receive a cheque for 8,500. Of course, the order arrived but no cheque. I wrote to them twice asking why but no reply. Don’t fall for it. You will find, if you read the small print that these are ‘Draws’ you haven’t actually won the money, YET! And, I would suggest, are never likely to. Is there not a law about fraud that could be used to stop this nonsense?

  7. I have now been told you are the number one WINNER of £43,354.09. My cheque will be in my hand in the next 3 days. signed Games Department.
    P. Kingsley. I remember this company from years ago. As already been said, as soon as you see the name of company.NO STAMP DONT OPEN, POST IT BACK TO THEM. GOOD LUCK

  8. My elderly father has started receiving these letters from a company called gourmet moments. Send in an order and you’ll definitely win a prize. He’s already ordered an overpriced, very ordinary cake (£8 for something even Waitrose wouldn’t charge more than about £1.50 for) from them to get this prize and now has yet another letter.

    I’ve spent ages trying to convince him it’s a con. So has my mother but he is easily confused. I have to say the letters are very convincingly written. I struggled to find anything that would suggest it was actually just a draw not an actual win. Is there anything that makes this illegal?

  9. My father in law who has just recently passed is alsoa victim of “phyderm”. He was lead to believe he was in for a cash prize but ended up a few £1000 out of pocket. These people are horrible. They prey on the vulnerable.

  10. I like loads of other people were scammed into placing an order. However, when I realised my cheque had not been presented for payment I phoned the office in Belfast where I spoke to a Belgian young man. I queried a) my so called winning cheque and b) when I could expect my goods. Amazingly I was told a) it was purely publicity and b) very soon. I immediately said I wanted tyo cancel my order and would also b e asking my bank to put a stop on my cheque.I figured a payment of £l0 to stop the cheque and any further contact with the company would be worth it! However, I later received a letter from them saying they had been instructed that unless they received the sum of £42.29 in settlement they would not be able to deal further. My letter to them indicated I
    felt it was a nice try, and should I be contacting a) my M.P. or the police. I then put them out of my mind. I knew I had not received the goods they were asking me to pay for! So with utter disbelief I have just opened and read a letter from them, at their Customer Service Dept. in Lille, La Belle France, purporting to come from their Legal Dept there!
    They even quote a customer number and an invoice number for the sum of £42,29. and then the letter became positively menacing for me as an almost 84yr old to read. They state if they do not receive this sum in the next ten days they will be obliged to instigate official recovery proceedings! Then they ASK ME TO COMPLETE A VOUCHER ANNEXED TO THE LETTER, GIVING THEM MY BANK CARD DETAILS! wHEN i TRIED TOP RING THE NUMBER

  11. Hello I read with interest your article regarding the false promises scam dated 2012….its still going on now in 2016!!! my mother in law is the ‘victim’ of these scammers, she is also bombarded with company’s wanting her to buy coins….and unfortunately before I could intervene she’s already spent thousands of pounds. I’ve written to the English based companies but I don’t believe we can stop companies out of the UK?

  12. My mum has scammed in the past few weeks, she still thinks the goods ordered will arrive. Here are just a few of the ones we knopw about,
    Phyderma, World of treats, My shopping corner,gourmet treats, minerals, MVEU, Vital nature, Elisa jewels and PB top news please don’t get caught out, keep a check on your elderly relatives as they seem to target them.

  13. I have been receiving a ton of mail through the letterbox from these people for a year now! I have tried returning the mail to sender and even emailed them with a warning to PLEASE STOP posting me this rubbish…to no avail. Can anyone please tell me how to stop them from sending these offers to me??? I’m getting mail from Vital Nature (Dougins France) and the others come from ASENDIA UK and IVER DEPOT in IVER. I am at my wits end here and so fed up!!!!

  14. I work in a Citizens Advice Bureau, & we’ve identified the following scammers: Vital Nature, Phyderma & Gourmet Moments. They got details of our very vulnerable client’s debit card & worked together, making multiple withdrawals from the client’s bank account, often all 3 will make more than 1 withdrawal on the same day. We have evidence that over a period of 3 months a client was robbed of nearly £1,000. I’ve passed the information to Action Fraud, Trading Standards & the Police & will wait to see if anything happens.

  15. OK So I have looked up the owner of the website Vital-Nature.co.uk
    The Company owner is “Mail Concept Plus” who are running these scams.

    Mail Concept plus, applied for a trademark for Vital Nature and were refused.
    They also applied for a trademark for Elisa Jewels and as we know are linked to the same scam.

    The name for these trademarks is:
    Virginie Levy of MAIL CONCEPT PLUS
    FR 75008

    A quick google shows this is who we all hate and info about the company:

    “Currently led by Carine Virginia LEVY, MAIL CONCEPT PLUS was founded in April 2011 and is a very young company.
    This company is a company with sole shareholder simplified joint stock or simplified joint stock company inscribe the registered capital is 200 000 EURO. Based in Mougins (Alpes-Maritimes department), its headquarters is registered within the registries and courts of the city of Cannes with the NAF code 4791A corresponding to the sector on distance selling catalog.”

    Please, someone take all the company assets and shut this down.

  16. My husband’s elderly uncle has recently died and whilst going through his bank statements and cheque book stubs, we’ve discovered that he’s paid several thousand pounds to Gourmet Moments, Vital Nature, Phyderma and various other companies of a similar nature.
    On some occasions, he appears to have written 2 or 3 cheques on the same day. Similarly, the same amount has been debited from his bank account several times on consecutive days which makes me think the companies used his bank details.
    Is there anything we can do to at least report these sharks?

  17. My mother passed away 2 weeks ago and seems to have been scammed by
    She received so many envelopes from VITAL NATURE she started buying box binders to keep them in. She never did win the promised £45k, just kept being pestered and buying rubbish from them including face lift creams and slimming pills, ironic really because she was a six stone 87 year old who refused to even take her prescribed medication. She was clearly overwhelmed but kept it quiet and none of the family knew about this until now.

  18. My gran is a victim of these scammers she received letters everyday, there very convincing but can’t find any way of stopping them from sending the letters and ringing numerous times a day, please help

  19. They have been conning my mother, first by adding junk, such as laxatives and diet pills, at exorbitant prices, to her order. One invoice claims she agreed to buy the diet pills by phone on a certain date, but the log on the only phone she ever uses shows that she made and received no calls at all on that date. They’ve now created a completely fictitious order under their “My Shopping Corner” facade which she had never heard of before she received the parcel with an invoice showing they’ve already charged her bank account. Of course the bank won’t help except to block any further payments to these companies, but this seems like some sort of fraud to me. What can we do about it?

  20. We did contact Action Fraud after we discovered that our deceased aunt had parted with £55,000. Action Fraud proved unhelpful. The money has, apparently, gone abroad and cannot be traced.

  21. Yes they are fraudulent ratbags! I have ordered some health products off Vital Nature since early-2016. Some of their products seemed ok, especially the detox foot pads. But NEVER have I won the prize draw money they’ve been oh so keen to infer I must win! They’re getting more cheeky and artful at scamming because this year (2018) they’ve been texting me & phoning me up saying “I’m so close to winning and a valued Customer that all I had to do – in Jan.2018 is to order one more item to qualify for my £4,300” which was a sure thing apparently. Told the bloke I didn’t have the money and we were struggling. He agreed to suspend payment until the end of February after hubbies’ pay day. Also they said they’d throw in a complimentary health item for free. I find out and argued with them on the phone in late-Jan. that NO – I couldn’t afford for it to go out in January, the promise MUST be honoured that NO payment should be taken until late Feb. and that my promised sure-fire prize draw entry must go ahead in Jan. I had to argue and stand firm because they take the micky and hand you round to a different French man each time. Well I wasn’t having none of it! They tried to coerce me to agree to accept paying them £54 instead of the already-agreed £30! But they never counted on the resolute Anglo-Saxon temper! I refused and told them where to put this (supposed) “free offer” and to take it off, only to send the cod liver oil tablets. This was agreed. When I responded to a text last week telling me to get in touch with them I phoned Vital Nature, only to be told to place another order and that I hadn’t won in January! I was fuming! I told them to stop scamming me and playing games. I want to refuse the order if it comes to my address and I’ve told my husband to do the same! It’s still waiting at the bank for the full £54. Which I will hotly dispute if they dare try to cash that! What a disgrace they are!!! If they’d been more honest and ethical then I might’ve been tempted to stay a Customer and order more foot pads from time to time. But now they can shove their business practices where the sun don’t shine. There SHOULD be a law to stop these wasters from parasiting off of good peoples’ time and energy, hopes etc. Because let’s face it, the ppl who need to win this money the most often don’t get anything! All they are storing up for themselves now is a bad reputation. Go to Hell Vital Nature!

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