Monthly Archives :

March 2019

Scam Alert

Osage 1 Phenco Oil

Osage 1 Phenco Oil 300 233 Adam Reeves

The five oil companies of Kansas B2 Project Ltd, Kansas MB Project Ltd, Sooner Energy SPV-1 Ltd, Osage 1 Ltd and Phenco Ltd, fronted by Martin Finch but controlled by two shadow directors, Glenn Jamie King and David Alexander Hyman, use a company called Chainbox Technology to make alleged royalty payments to investors. Chainbox is part of a portfolio of firms owned by the Spurling family. They also own Spurlings Accountants Ltd.

In the cases of Osage 1, Phenco and Sooner Energy shareholders, no payments have been made for nine months. The excuse given to shareholders in all three companies is that Martin Finch has been unable to find “a platform” to be able to make the payments. This is very interesting because Kansas B2 Project Ltd and Kansas MB Project Ltd shareholders received their payments in January this year. They were paid by Chainbox Technology – the company with just one director, Terry Frank Joel Spurling, aged 81.

If it isn’t “platform issues” it is blamed on the banks. We all know how impossible it is to transfer US dollars from the USA to the UK and how it can easily take nine months. The USA is recognised as a third world country with absolutely no bank controls, horrendous governance over funds, a reputation for money laundering on a massive scale and a country that just cannot be trusted. It is right up there with Somalia and Colombia for illicit transactions. Martin Finch would have investors believe that it just isn’t possible to transfer money from the USA to the UK.

So how is it possible for shareholders in the two companies which allegedly have oil operations in Kansas to be paid, yet shareholders in the other three companies haven’t been paid ? Perhaps that question should be levelled at Chainbox Technology. They seem to have stepped into the shoes of the previous “money man”. The previous dodgy partner of the oil companies was Jade State Wealth Ltd. This company will be well known to people who have lost their total investments. It has been involved in more scams than we can count. The last one, Essex and London Properties Ltd, was probably their undoing. That company has been the subject of an investigation by the Fraud Team at Essex Police. Not by coincidence we believe the people involved in the oil companies are well acquainted with Essex Police.

As mentioned in a previous blog post Glenn King, David Hyman and Henry George Berry are raising money for a new oil venture called Tristone Holdings. We expect some of that money to be siphoned off in the direction of Osage 1, Phenco and Sooner Energy to pay shareholders because there is a lot of unrest amongst shareholder in those three companies. Of course, siphoning off money like that would be illegal but we doubt that would bother them too much.

Martin Finch is still claiming, nine months on, that it isn’t possible for a US company to transfer money to the UK. What a ridiculous statement. He is steadfastly refusing to provide any information on company performance to shareholders, including refusing to tell anyone in Osage 1, Phenco or Sooner Energy the total amount of royalties the various companies are owed or the amount that each individual shareholder is owed. He just says that payments are allegedly held in limbo because of banking compliance.

If you have received a payment from Chainbox Technology or you would like to know whether they are the platform which is holding up your payments you can contact them at:

Chainbox Technology Ltd, Unit 9, 97-101 Peregrine Road, Hainault Business Park, Ilford, IG6 3XH.

Alternatively, give them a call at Spurlings Accountants. Their number is 02085 533071. If you would prefer to drop in they claim to be at 112b High Road, Ilford which has an entrance at the side of the building in Chadwick Road.

We would love to hear what they have to say about their involvement with Finch, King and Hyman.

If you would like to contact the Managing Director with questions about their involvement you should email david.spurling@btconnect.com . We don’t think it can be a very big firm because most firms, even small ones, have their own domain name. Sometimes very small firms are grateful for any kind of business, no matter how shady. The trouble is that it always backfires on them in the end.

To view the next article in the saga of the five UK oil companies please click here.

 

European Property Coin – 5

European Property Coin – 5 150 150 Adam Reeves

Safe Or Scam has been working with European Property Coin investors to explore ways to expose the EPC scam and to hold the people involved to account.

A hearing has been scheduled at the High Court in London for 27th March 2019 at which our principal investor will present evidence against the company operating the European Property Coin scam – Clear View Marketing Services Ltd. This company also goes under the name of Clear View Trading.

We have now identified 29 UK bank accounts associated with the scam and we expect to be able to identify the owners of those accounts so that prosecutions can follow. This includes accounts operated under the name Asset Recovery Network, a fake liquidation firm which persuaded investors to send more money in order to release non-existent funds they claimed to be holding for them. Many of these bank accounts are personal accounts owned by scam salespeople.

We will update investors once the judgement has been given.

You can read the previous blog post on European Property Coin HERE

Aston Darby

Aston Darby 150 150 Adam Reeves

At the request of a client we have been looking into the Aston Darby Harbour Car Parking investment near Glasgow Airport.

This has the usual hallmarks of a land banking scheme whereby a company buys a plot of land for £XXX, divides it up into smaller plots and sells the plots for 10 times £XXX. It justifies the sale price of the smaller plots by saying that each plot will generate £YYY which will give a good yield, typically 10% or more.

The reality is that the plot is not worth the price the investor is paying. They are being tricked into believing it is good value based on the projections of the car park management company. The investor is actually taking a bet on whether or not the management company is any good. In most cases, as with Aston Darby, the management company is brand new, has no history of running car parks and is owned by the same people who sold the plots to investors. Another organisation which sold car parking spaces to investors is Signature. You can read more about them HERE.

The standard outcome for these kinds of unregulated collective investment schemes is for the management company to either withdraw from the contract after a couple of years or to go bust. The investor will be left with a small plot of land which is worth one tenth of what they paid and is in the middle of one thousand other plots. Meanwhile, the developer has run off with the money.

The key people involved in Aston Darby are Leigh Heywood and Gregory Heywood. They have a history of involvement in a company where creditors lost a lot of money.

If you have invested in any Aston Darby investment offer involving any Aston Darby company please contact us. We may be able to help.

Shepherd Cox

Shepherd Cox 150 150 Adam Reeves

Shepherd Cox Ltd aka The Shepherd Cox Group “operates in a range of market sectors including residential, commercial, hotel and leisure” according to an email received by Safe Or Scam on 26th February 2019. The email was from Adam Stanborough, Founding Partner of the Shepherd Cox Group. It was very brief and only contained the following statement:

“Further to your website http://careroominvest.co.uk, please remove the reference to Shepherd Cox. Your accusations are untrue and are not supported by any evidence.”  We have actually taken down that website now because it served its purpose.

We make no secret of the fact that we are very concerned over care home room and hotel room investments. These are very high risk investments but are represented as being low risk. We took a look at Shepherd Cox Ltd and could find no reference to Mr Stanborough being “a founding partner”. He certainly isn’t listed as one at Companies House.

Then in a bizarre twist on 28th February 2019 we received an email from James Yarker, Sales Director of Fortem Global Ltd, one of the unregulated sales agent companies selling this high risk investment. Their email was also very brief and said:

“Further to your website http://careroominvest.co.uk, please remove the reference to Fortem Global. Your accusations are untrue and are not supported by any evidence.”

This surely has to be the height of laziness i.e to write exactly the same two sentences as Shepherd Cox but just replace the words ‘Shepherd Cox’ with the words ‘Fortem Global’. Needless to say they did not identify the parts of the website that they take issue with. We stand by our comments about these high risk schemes.

On 6th March 2019 we received another email from Adam Stanborough. When we say another email it was simply the exact same email he had sent on 26th February. Presumably we will get another one from Fortem Global very soon.

We are genuinely concerned for investors who have invested in care home rooms and hotel rooms. We are now undertaking a more thorough investigation of Shepherd Cox group and would like to hear from investors in any of their products whether it be residential, hotel rooms, commercial or leisure. Please contact us.

Please click HERE to read our blog on THE CARE HOME GROUP which sells bedrooms in care homes, or click HERE to read our blog on SIGNATURE which also specialises in the sale of hotel room investments, amongst others.

Please click on this link to see our more recent article on six Shepherd Cox hotel companies which are being taken to court by investors.

 

The Care Home Group

The Care Home Group 150 150 Adam Reeves

THE CARE HOME GROUP / CARLAUREN GROUP

The Care Home Group Ltd is part of the Carlauren Group Ltd and offers investors the opportunity to purchase individual bedrooms in care homes. The business model is very similar to that of companies which offer hotel rooms to investors, except for the fact that The Care Home Group Ltd offers investors a choice of income options. In our opinion this is a very high risk investment. If the company operating the care home walks away or goes bust, the investor is left with one room in a large building which would be almost impossible to sell. Any prospective purchaser would have to deal with 30, 40, 50 or more separate room owners, often spread around the world with different expectation levels, and this would inevitably result in a much lower sale price for the home. There is a genuine danger that the empty care home would deteriorate without ongoing maintenance which, in most cases, investors would be expected to finance. What is worse with a care room investment compared to a hotel room investment is that a failure of a care home drastically affects the lives of vulnerable people. In a hotel situation the hotel just declines to take any more bookings. In a care home there will be elderly residents faced with uncertainty and having to move to a new home.

When we see “guaranteed buy-back” schemes it always raises a red flag with us. More often than not the company contracted to buy-back the unit does not have the funds to do so. By the time the buy-back is due the company has found a way out of it or has dissolved and doesn’t exist anymore.

If you or I were to buy a house we would be able to obtain an independent valuation on the property. However, room investments invariably have no independent valuation of the room. How can a valuer assess the value of a care room which is wholly dependent upon the quality and longevity of the care home operator ? When an investor buys a room they are not actually buying a property although it is made to look like that. They are buying into the care home business itself because without the business the room is virtually worthless. It seems to us that too many operators make up the valuation based on what they say they will pay in rental e.g if they promise to pay rental of £10,000 then a room in their eyes is worth £100,000. If they promise to pay £8,000 in rental then the room is worth £80,000 and so on. There is no sense in this approach because if the company goes bust and pays NIL in rental then it suggests that the room is worth nothing, which ultimately is not going to be too far from the truth.

Who owns TCHG and Carlauren Group ? When you strip it down to bare bones it is one man – Sean Murray. Mr Murray also owns a private jet business and has more recently moved into establishing a bizarre cryptocurrency based on his own business. In the future, the families of residents in the care home will have to buy his cryptocurrency and pay for care services using this currency. What on earth is going on ? How long will it be before the rental income paid to investors will have to be paid in Mr Murray’s strange cryptocurrency ? So….. in a nutshell, families will pay genuine cash for a cryptocurrency fabricated by Mr Murray. Does this sound normal to you ? It rings alarm bells with us. We are already involved in exposing dodgy cryptocurrencies and trying to recover investors’ money from those kinds of investments. We will be following this new scheme very closely.

We are inviting investors in Carlauren Group, The Care Home Group and indeed any other care home room investment to contact us with details of their investments. We believe the schemes may breach Financial Conduct Authority regulations and may be unlawful. We are looking into these aspects.

If you would like to read about some of the risks involved in owning rooms within a larger premises please take a look at this BLOG.

Signature Group

Signature Group 300 300 Adam Reeves

Signature Group/ Signature Living / Signature Works / Signature Capital – Hotel Rooms / Workspaces / Car Parking Plots  /  Short Term Bonds.

Safe Or Scam has begun an investigation into the activities of the Signature group of companies. Signature is the lead name for a very large portfolio of companies offering a range of investments including hotel rooms, workspaces, car parking plots and short term bonds. All these investment types are known to have caused substantial losses to investors in the past. At least two types have been declared unlawful schemes breaching UK and US financial regulations. At this time it is not possible to comment on whether or not any of the Signature investments are in that bracket, but the high level of borrowing from ordinary investors and the association of Signature with people known to have been involved in the promotion and marketing of scams is a genuine cause for concern.   

Founders of hotel room investment schemes have been the subject of prosecutions by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK. The courts found that the hotel room schemes breached Financial Conduct Authority regulations and were therefore unlawful. Investors lost a lot of money because it transpired that the hotel values on the open market were a lot less than the money paid by investors.

We recently looked at a hotel investment which was constructed as follows:

60 bedroom hotel. 40 bedrooms sold to investors @ £60,000 each raised £2.4m for the developer. 20 bedrooms were not sold and were retained by the developer.

The hotel (comprising the grounds and the entirety of the buildings including all 60 bedrooms) was purchased less than 6 months earlier for £1.1m. The hotel did undergo a refurbishment but this was by a company owned by the developer, therefore it is possible that the company overcharged the developer for the work, thereby allowing the developer to claim that investors’ money had been spent on the refurbishment. It is a common practice we have seen before.

The rental guarantee of 10% per year was being offered to investors by another company which was also owned by the developer but which was relatively recently incorporated and had no assets. We see that structure quite often. If, as inevitably happens once all bedrooms are sold, the rental company were to stop paying the rental guarantee, investors would be left with a grossly over-priced bedroom with no rental guarantee and very limited options for resale. The value of the hotel would decline as investors would be very reluctant to pay annual maintenance fees on a loss-making asset. Any prospective buyer for the hotel would have to negotiate with 40 bedroom owners. It would only take one bedroom owner to be uncontactable or disruptive for the sale of the hotel to collapse. Any prospective buyer would discount the price it is willing to pay to compensate for the hassle. Many of the bedroom owners are likely to be outside the UK in UAE, Hong Kong, Malaysia, China etc which makes the situation even more difficult. In brief, we believe investors would be very lucky to get back 40% of their investment. Is that difficult to believe ? We don’t think so because we have seen it happen. In 2007 a hotel room scheme collapsed. It had raised £3m from investors who bought hotel rooms. It offered a guaranteed rental of 12% for ten years. The rental management company was owned by the developer. No independent hotel management company could be found to take on the hotel because investors would not agree to cover the losses of that company if the hotel couldn’t make a profit. The hotel was closed down and boarded up. Thieves broke in and stripped everything of value including the fixtures and fittings, the lead from the roof, copper pipes from the plumbing etc. The building became derelict. Drug addicts and homeless people began to use the derelict building. When the building was eventually sold a few years later it was for less than £300,000 i.e less than 10% of what investors had paid. In 2013, once the building was sold, a legal action was started against the people involved in the scheme. That action is still going.

Workspaces – In 2017 a workspace investment operated by Bar Works Inc in the USA collapsed with investors losing an estimated $36 million. The scheme involved a lease on workspaces with lease-back arrangements paying a fixed annual return. A court in Miami ruled the investment to be the sale of unregistered securities, not a property transaction, and ruled that it was in fact a Ponzi Scheme. The founder of that scheme is in jail in the USA awaiting trial. In 2018 another workspace investment scheme operated by OurSpace collapsed with investors facing losses of more than $25m. Safe Or Scam is working with investors in both of those failed schemes to help recover their funds. You will find out more on these schemes by visiting our blogs.

The Signature group of companies is controlled by a husband and wife team. Lawrence Kenwright is the principle founder and is assisted by his wife, Katie Kenwright. To date we have identified more than 80 companies which Lawrence Kenwright or Katie Kenwright own or control. Lawrence Kenwright has been mentioned in the House of Commons by a British member of parliament who stated that Mr Kenwright was declared bankrupt in 2010 and was a former disqualified director. The reasons for his disqualification are unclear, but the UK authorities do not take the decision to disqualify a person from being a director lightly.

Investors should also be very concerned at the involvement of David Kennedy and James Robinson with the Signature group. Their companies, United Property Group, UPG Worldwide SL, United Property Investments and United Property Connect were the master sales agents for both of the workspace scams mentioned above as well as other collapsed schemes. “Master Sales Agent” means that they sat at the top of the sales pyramid. They drove sales for the scams and recruited unscrupulous sales agents. Their companies operated out of Malaga and have a long history of selling scam projects. Two years ago they switched over to become the Master Sales Agent for Signature projects.

Some of the Signature companies include:

Signature Living Hotel Ltd  /  Signature Capital Investments Ltd  /  Signature Works Gold Ltd  /  Signature Works Alpha Ltd  /  Signature Living Ltd and a long list of ‘Signature [hotel name]’ companies.

One can’t but help wonder why a supposedly large and successful company would offer short term bonds paying very high interest rates to investors, rather than borrowing from a bank at a much lower interest rate. This is even more surprising considering that Signature sells its products through unregulated sales agents who take very high commissions from investors’ money (15% – 30% commission is not uncommon). This kind of promotional approach is normally indicative of a Ponzi Scheme which needs fresh money coming in all the time to meet the debt liability to the earlier investors and which, as a Ponzi starts to unravel, has to offer higher and higher returns to new investors to keep the scheme alive.

We note that the Signature short term bonds offer security (if it can really be described as that) over the assets of the Signature top company. The latest estimate from Signature states that the operational estate is valued at £537 million GDV. Really ? What are the debt obligations on that estate ? How many of those assets are mortgaged and are worth less than investors have paid for them ? We wonder what happens if the group actually owes more money than the assets it owns ? We also wonder how a group’s value would be affected if it was found to be offering unlawful schemes which would entitle investors to full refunds ?

If you are an investor in a hotel room, workspace, car parking or short term bond scheme, especially if it was through Signature Group or a Signature company, we would like to hear from you. We are very concerned about these types of investments.

See our more recent update on Signature here.

 

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