LONDON: Fraudsters posing as agents for Yellow Pages advertising directory are cheating unwary businesses.

Westminster City Council seized cheques totalling about £10 000 sent by educational institutions and businesses to The Yellow Pages 24 company.

The fraudsters charge up to £600 for advertisements with cheques sent to German bank accounts or London W1 mailbox addresses.

The council has warned that the case could be just the "tip of the iceberg".

Officers were alerted by complaints and recovered several cheques from the mailbox address in Oxford Street. Cheques recovered were from schools and businesses throughout the UK, including Lincolnshire, Kent, Somerset and Shropshire.

Sue Jones, trading standards service manager at the council, said: "The fraud is simple, yet has proved highly profitable.

"Busy staff would not suspect they're the victims of a widespread and systematic fraud as some advertise with Yellow Pages anyway, so when an invoice purporting to be from the company arrives they diligently pay the bill."

A spokesman for Yellow Pages said: "We don't hesitate to take legal action if necessary to protect our brand and safeguard our registered trade marks."