Hundreds of small British businesses and minor celebrities have been targeted by a sophisticated black market scam orchestrated by "rogue editors" at Wikipedia.
The victims faced demands for hundreds of pounds to “protect” or update Wikipedia pages about their businesses, as revealed in the Independent on Wednesday.
From singer-songwriters to stunt doubles, hi-tech companies to children’s toy shops, the elaborate con has targeted individuals and companies around the globe.
People and businesses across Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia have fallen for the scam.
In Britain, the victims range from Tiffany Wright, romance expert and glossy magazine journalist for Grazia and Cosmo, to singer Paul Manners, a former Britain’s Got Talent contestant.
There are several wedding photography companies also on the list of pages deleted by Wikipedia. Many of those affected run small businesses, such as Rachel Entwistle, a jewellery designer from London.
A spokesman for the jewellers described the scam as “really disconcerting”
and “a whole world I’ve never heard of.”
Other British businesses caught out range from Primo Vape, which sells liquids for e-cigarettes, to the VeggieMatchMakers website. But large companies have been targeted, too.
A spokesman for Creme Global, a software company based in Dublin, Ireland, said: “A person claiming to be a Wikipedia member contacted Creme Global a while ago about writing a Wikipedia page for the company.
"As far as I can see, many companies were affected by this and we are as eager as anyone else to get to the bottom of this.”