Monthly Archives :

June 2020

Scam Alert

Titon Associates Scam

Titon Associates Scam 300 233 Adam Reeves

Titon Associates Scam.

Titon Associates Asset Management is a bogus company running a follow-on-fraud against investors who have already lost money in a scam. This scam organisation is pretending to be this company Titon Associates Ltd.  It is the standard scammers model of choosing an innocent long-established company and hijacking its name.  Their documents will include the registration number and registered office address of the genuine company because they know that investors will not write to the company’s address to check if the approach is bona-fide. If you ever want to check with a company DO NOT call the telephone number or email them. Write to the company’s registered office address which is shown at Companies House.

The Titon Associates scam website is very poor. The domain name was purchased in January this year. The Financial Conduct Authority has already issued a warning here about the company.

Investors typically receive an email from “Camilla Mullertz” (she’s the director of the real company so these guys are pretending to be her) which says:

I would like to personally welcome you to Titon Associates.

We hope you will find your experience with us both memorable and rewarding. As a client of our company, we can guarantee you a transparent process and insight into new potential investments, along with a personal service of the highest caliber. 

Included in this letter is your contract for the sale of your portfolio, as well as our terms and conditions of sale. 

The world is your oyster.

Yours sincerely,

Camilla Mullertz

Director

“The world is your oyster”……  It sounds as if she likes a good proverb.  Here’s one she could have used which would be more pertinent “A penny saved is a penny earned”.

Don’t give any pennies to the Titon Associates scam because they will run off with them and you will not see your money again.

 

The High Street Group

The High Street Group 450 300 Adam Reeves

The High Street Group

We have started looking into the investments offered by The High Street Group PLC and associated companies.  It’s quite a tangle.

A few websites have covered The High Street Group investments in the past. The excellent Bond Review has written several articles on them, the first of which can be found here:

Bond Review Jan 2018

We are not suggesting there is anything wrong with The High Street Group, its associated companies or the investments.  They may in fact turn out to be the first investment group we have ever reviewed that could be given a “Safe” endorsement rather than “Scam”, however our experience of similar multiple bonds issued one after another is that the income from the newest bonds is often spent on paying up the old bonds, thereby creating the illusion that the old bonds delivered on their promises and that the company knows how to generate high returns from its assets.  The reality is that this is often far from the truth, but the illusion works very well because each new bond issuance raises more money than the last.

When the new money stops rolling in the ponzi scheme collapses.  The more complex the company structure, the more difficult it is to see exactly what has been going on.  Just to be clear – we’re referring to other companies and not The High Street Group when we describe this scenario.

Thus far our investigation has revealed an impressive 78 companies in The High Street Group structure and a lot of bonds that have been issued one after another, of which a number of the earlier ones have been paid up.

This week we received two important emails related to The High Street Group.  The first was from an investor and is copied below:

Having just been scammed out of my investments by Westway Holdings Ltd, I now find that the High Street Group are up to the same old tricks.

No sooner have I applied to redeem my investments with them when I get a phone call from their Customer Services Manager, Ryan Adams Tel: 0191 211 4120 to say that their money is all tied up (all so called millions of them) and they are not in a position to pay back my money. Where have I heard that before!

Can you please put a blog on your website warning investors not to touch the THSG group with a barge pole. You may even wish to give Mr Adams a ring…………………………..!

Many thanks for your help

We told this investor that we were looking into TSHG and we would go public next week.  He passed that information on to TSHG.  Later the same day THSG appeared to change its mind and the investor was told that he would be paid in August after all.  A couple of hours later we received a letter from The High Street Group Legal Department.  It’s definitely more pleasant than some we receive.  Here it is:

Dear Sirs

High Street Group Investigation

We have been notified that you are currently conducting an investigation into High Street Group.

Given that we have had no contact from you we would be grateful if you would clarify exactly what it is you state you are investigating? We are of course happy to assist with any legitimate and legal investigation and provide answers to any queries you or investors may have.

To ensure that matters remain accurate and purposeful we would be grateful if you would provide us with any content you intend to make publically available on your website as it pertains to High Street Group or any associated company.

Please be advised that we have strict instructions to take formal action in respect of any content posted which is factually incorrect or can be deemed defamatory.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Yours faithfully,

Legal Team

On behalf of The High Street Group

info@thehighstreetgroup.com

We’re happy to engage with THSG and will take up the offer to send them our queries.  We’re a bit surprised that the legal department doesn’t have its own email address e.g legal@………..

Sending legal correspondence to an info@……… email address is unusual.

We will be continuing with our analysis of THSG because any company that can take £100,000 in Year 1 and pay out £301,900 at the end of Year 7 is a money-making machine worthy of celebration.  The big payday is not that far away !

We would like to hear from any person who has invested in The High Street Group bonds just in case things don’t go entirely according to plan.  It pays to be prepared….

To view an updated article in November 2020 please click here.

 

Shepherd Cox Email

Shepherd Cox Email 400 267 Adam Reeves

Shepherd Cox Email

On 11th June 2020 Shepherd Cox sent out its latest email to investors in the six hotels which are now  in administration.  It was the same proposal that they tried to get investors to buy into before the court hearing at the end of May.  Investors were not fooled by it then and they are not being fooled now.

The proposal in May was an attempt to stop the court hearing from taking place.  This time it is an attempt to stop the investigation into their management of the companies and the conduct of the directors.

It was noticeable that the Shepherd Cox email was not sent to investors outside the UK.  Investors outside the UK are the ones who did not get their rentals paid, whereas investors in the UK were being paid.  That is very fishy in itself.

The administrator responded to the Shepherd Cox email.  We have copied two of the claims made by Adam Stanborough of Shepherd Cox below, with the administrator’s response below them.

Shepherd Cox Email: ” a number of Shepherd Cox companies are also creditors of the companies in administration”. 

Administrator Response:  “Mr Stanborough provides no confirmation of the amounts which it is alleged other Shepherd Cox companies are owed.  Since operation and up to the 30 March 2020, the hotels have reported cumulative losses of £3,178,460.  However we consider that this does not fully represent the position.  The companies have used accounting treatment on the sale of the rooms to investors which means they have recognised profit on the sale of those rooms.   We are currently undertaking accounting analysis of the amounts which have been attributed to profit but we believe it will show that the hotels have made significantly more losses (and have never been profitable as a trading business under the management of the Shepherd Cox Group). 

The money raised from investors in the six companies is circa £17,000,000 and in addition, the Companies have third party unsecured loans totalling £1.9m.   Please note that the vast majority of these funds have never been received by the Companies but have been paid into the wider Shepherd Cox Group.

That leaves just under £9m of money unaccounted for and seemingly being used to provide general funding to the Shepherd Cox Group.

The Companies have funded ongoing trading losses and rental payments by the funds received from investors, not the revenue from the trading of the hotel. The current evidence suggests that if the hotels were traded, they would not generate anywhere near sufficient funds to pay the costs of ongoing trading and make rental payments to investors”. 

Shepherd Cox Email:  “Whilst Shepherd Cox believe that the ‘share swap’ proposal represents the best way of securing the expected returns, creditors need to move quickly to organise themselves to unite the freehold with your leaseholds to enable the hotel to trade and generate income.

With that in mind, we are in the process of setting up 6 new companies (referred to below as the ‘OpCo’) that will attempt to recover each of the freeholds from the administrator in order to operate the hotel.

Providing the OpCo has your support this new company would then seek to recover the hotel freeholds from the administrator in order to have the right to operate the hotel on your behalf”.

Administrator Response:  “What Shepherd Cox are proposing is that investors assist Shepherd Cox in trying to halt the Administration process.  This might, they may think, avoid an investigation into what has happened to all the money that was paid for the rooms. We can confirm that the administrators (and any subsequently appointed liquidators) will be investigating the Companies affairs and the conduct of their management in this regard thoroughly in accordance with their statutory duties to creditors. We will be taking all actions necessary to recover monies and bring those responsible for any wrongdoing to account”.

We would welcome the Shepherd Cox Group submitting detailed business plans with financials which may be reviewed both by investors and their advisers and by the Administrators in this regard.

If any option from the wider Shepherd Cox group does represent the best position and they are also able to pay back the substantial funds which they owe to the Companies, then we would welcome their proposals”. 

It is worth noting that in a previous email to the Shepherd Cox directors, the administrator offered to record the interview which they will be having with the directors so that it could be shared with the investors.  The Shepherd Cox directors were asked to give their consent.  As yet the directors have not agreed to that proposal.

Since our last article on this subject we have been looking at the accounts for some of the other Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile companies filed at Companies House.  We believe that at least another nine hotel companies can be regarded as balance sheet insolvent. 

If anyone is still interested in investing with Lee Bramzell we’re sure he’ll be happy to take your money for his new ‘Festival Hotels’ brand.

Anyone who feels that Shepherd Cox director Nick Carlile is in any way qualified as either a property or a business expert can contact him through his own self-publicising website nickcarlile.com.  Maybe he could do one of his famous podcasts, but this time explaining how he and his mates made £9m of investors’ money disappear.  There are 235 investors who would be sure to tune in to that one.

To read our previous article on Shepherd Cox please click here.

 

Scam Alert

Crestlynn Escrow Services Scam

Crestlynn Escrow Services Scam 300 233 Adam Reeves

Crestlynn Escrow Services Scam,

Crestlynn Escrow Services is operating a follow-on-fraud.  Investors are initially being contacted by phone to be told that Crestlynn Escrow Services is able to recover their investments.  The approach is then followed up by an email like this:

From: Peter McDowell
Sent: 
To:
Subject: Crestlynn Escrow Services

Good Afternoon [Name]

Further to your recent conversation with one of our advisors, we are pleased to confirm we are able to offer you a position in the upcoming Escrow Release, facilitated by Crestlynn Escrow Services.

Crestlynn Escrow Services acts in the interest of clients laden with the stress of the aftermath of company insolvencies, facilitating a route out of the market for investors. Alongside the agents we work with, we promote a culture of transparency in order to restore faith in the investment markets.

Please find below the link to our website for your perusal: http://crestlynnescrow.co.uk/

Please contact us should you have any further queries on 0203 026 5068.

Many Thanks

Peter McDowell
Accounts Manager

The content of this email is confidential and intended for the recipient specified in message only. It is strictly forbidden to share any part of this message with any third party, without a written consent of the sender. If you received this message by mistake, please reply to this message and follow with its deletion, so that we can ensure such a mistake does not occur in the future.

Of dear. It’s strictly forbidden to share any part of his message with any third party, without a written consent of the sender. Never mind, we’ve done it now.

Now here’s the really interesting part which reinforces what we have believed for a long time.  We believe many of these follow-on-frauds originate from the same people operating from the same premises.  We don’t know why they choose to launch a series of follow-on-frauds all at the same time, but that is what they do.  For example, a few days ago we published this article on the Haras Investments scam SEE HERE.

The wording on the Crestlynn Escrow Services scam website is exactly the same as in the Haras Investments website.  Here’s the wording on both:

1. “Secure life’s biggest purchases, and the smaller ones too”.

2. “For dealing with someone you don’t know”.

3. “Verify the identity of all users”.

4. “Funds securely held in our patended vault”.

5. “We protect both sides of the transaction”.

6. “We help with any disputes”.

The Crestlynn Escrow Services scam domain name for its website was bought on 12th April this year.  The Haras Investments domain name was bought on 30th March this year.  There will be other scam websites out there with exactly the same wording and all published by the same people.

Anyone who is contacted by Crestlynn Escrow Services or any other “money is being held in escrow” fraudster can be 100% sure that it is a scam and must never give them any money.

 

Scam Alert

Haras Investments Scam

Haras Investments Scam 300 233 Adam Reeves

Haras Investments Scam

Haras Investments is operating a follow-on-fraud targeting people who invested in a binary option trading scam which operated under the name of StratXMarkets.  StratXMarkets never existed, but it successfully persuaded a lot of people that it did.  That scam was exposed in 2017, but the list of investors is still being passed around the scammers network.

The bogus Haras Investments scam has cloned the details of a genuine company.  Just to be clear, the real Haras Investments Ltd probably does not even know that a scammer is using their company name.

The real Haras Investments Ltd has been running since 1933.  It really has been running for 87 years !  You can see that here.  One thing is for certain – the company is definitely still living in 1933 because it doesn’t have a website and it never even bothered to protect itself by buying its own domain name !

Scammers have jumped in and bought the domain name of www.harasinvestments.co.uk.  The website is really, really bad, but even a bad website is capable of fooling quite a few people. Here’s a link to it but we don’t expect it to be around for long.

From this point when we say “Haras Investments” we are referring to the scam company and not the real one.

So, Haras Investments (or maybe Harass Investments might be more appropriate considering it phones its intended victims several times a day) is contacting investors telling them that it has recovered their investment and it is being “held in escrow”.  If we had a dollar for every time we heard that phrase…….

It doesn’t have any money in escrow – it’s a scam.

Here is their brochure, the text of which is repeated on their website.  The website domain name was only purchased on 30th March 2020.  Haras Investments is a scam.

Haras Investments Brochure

The brochure is so bad that we’ve fallen in love with it.  It’s been written by someone who clearly doesn’t have a clue what he is doing.  He was probably only there to top up the toilet rolls in the lavatory when one of the scammers said “Oy you…. put those toilet rolls down and write me something about investments quick”.

Here’s his detailed and comprehensive explanation of Investments for those of us who aren’t really sure what an investment is and need an expert to tell us:

INVESTMENTS

Nothing is more important than getting the right advice, at the right time especially in this complex and ever changing world. When planning investments for the future, it is important to consider the impact of inflation.

Inflation is the rise of price of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys less goods and services.

In conclusion inflation reflects a reduction in the purchasing power per unit of money. How much will the money you have today be able to buy or pay for in the future, if your savings are not growing at the same rate as the cost of living?

Brilliant !!  This man is a genius.  I just love the way he writes four short sentences about inflation and not about investments.  Then he starts the final paragraph with the words “In conclusion….”!  In conclusion !  It’s so bad that it’s great comedy.

I can’t help feeling that when this idiot was told to write about investments he typed the word ‘inflation’ into Google instead.

Here’s another piece that must have been given to the same guy.  Probably with the words “Oy you – put those toilet rolls down and write me a disclaimer quick”.  He must have been feeling fantastic after his epic piece on investments.  So much so that he really went into overkill on the disclaimer:

“Your investments are your responsibility.  We do not accept any liability for any loss or damage which is incurred from you acting or not acting as a result of reading any of our publications.  You acknowledge that you use the information we provide at your own risk.  Information, not advice or recommendations.  Our publications do not offer investment advice and nothing in them should be construed as investment advice.  Our publications provide information and education for investors who can make their own investment decisions without advice.  The information contained in our publications is not, and should not be read as, an offer or recommendation to buy or sell or a solicitation of an offer or recommendation to buy or sell any securities.  Our publications are not, and should not be seen as a recommendation to use any particular investment strategy”.

Phew….. this is the passage that could really do with an “In conclusion…..”.

Note the bold section “Information, not advice or recommendations”.  We’re surprised he didn’t write “Have you got that you thickos”.

We love the fact that Haras Investments “do not accept any liability for any loss or damage from us……not acting as a result of reading any of their publications”.  OK, so we read your publication and we did not do anything.  Therefore we did not lose any money and you do not accept any liability for us not losing any money…..Fair enough.

“Our publications do not offer investment advice”.  Well that’s not in doubt, but if anyone wants inflation advice Haras Investments is the go-to place.  Nobody can summarise inflation quite like Haras.

The Haras Investments scam is a shocker in terms of its abysmal quality.  What’s more – there’s still no toilet rolls in the lavatory.  Where the hell is that guy ?

 

Shepherd Cox Investigation

Shepherd Cox Investigation 400 300 Adam Reeves

Shepherd Cox Investigation

The Shepherd Cox investigation is gathering pace as more information comes to light.  Last month, six Shepherd Cox companies were placed into administration on the grounds of insolvency.  You can read our previous article here.

We raised a number of questions including:

1. The directors of Shepherd Cox Ltd (not one of the companies in administration) claimed that they had taken legal advice on the schemes prior to selling the hotel rooms. We asked why the advice was not submitted in evidence at the hearing.  The directors answered our query by saying that they were advised not to make the advice public in court because “it is privileged”.  The problem for the directors now is that if they are telling the truth then that advice was used to sell bedrooms in hotels which are now under the control of an administrator.  The administrator has a legal right to a copy of that advice and we’ve no doubt he will demand it.  So there is a good chance that very soon it will be clear to investors whether or not the directors were telling the truth.

2. We also questioned how a 48-bedroom hotel bought by Shepherd Cox in 2016 and which has been described for the last four years as a 48-bedroom hotel, could sell 57 bedrooms to investors.  Shepherd Cox has answered that too (well, sort of….)  They’ve written to investors with the following statement:

“Safe Or Scam also imply that a Hartlepool investor was unaware that a room they were buying required refurbishment. We can confirm that a retention was held back by the buyer’s solicitor in respect of this room. We also have an email from the room buyer asking us for an update on the refurbishment timeframe”.

We have more than one client who bought one of the nine ghost bedrooms in August 2016. The directors said ”a retention was held back by the buyer’s solicitor”.  In building terms a retention is normally a small amount to cover minor snagging faults such as touching up the paintwork or fixing a loose electrical fitting.  We’re willing to bet that 95% of the money was released to Shepherd Cox by the solicitor as soon as it was received. The money would have allowed them to construct the rooms and only a very small amount would have been held back. We also note that they use the term “refurbishment” twice. Staff at the hotel have advised us that these rooms weren’t in need of refurbishment.  They were in need of construction because they were cupboards and an old kitchen. So to make a hotel bedroom suitable for guests, nine new en-suite bathrooms would need to be built. They were included in the plans submitted to the council in 2016. Staff have told us that these rooms are still as they were in 2016 i.e cupboards and an old kitchen. Nothing has been done. We will know soon enough because we should be getting pictures through in the next couple of weeks which we will publish.

Perhaps the most foolish thing the directors did was to write to investors last week seeking to put blame onto the administrators who have only just taken office.  Statements like:

As of last Thursday the administrator became responsible for the payment of rents to all room buyers including yours. You might want to confirm that they intend to pay it to you”

The administrator wrote a strong letter to investors copied to Shepherd Cox which gave a brief overview of the Shepherd Cox investigation to date and included the passages below:

The Companies, under the management of its directors, had fallen behind with rental payments to investors and was held by the court to be insolvent, hence the making of the administration orders appointing the Joint Administrators.

On appointment, there were minimal funds in the bank accounts….. [our bold] 

The majority of the funds received from investors were not paid into the Companies but were paid to group companies…..[our bold]

Had the directors of the Companies caused the funds raised from the sale of hotel rooms and unsecured loans to be paid to the Companies, it is likely that there would have been significant funds available to keep the hotels open and continuing to trade…… [our bold]

Since purchase it appears that the hotels have always traded at a loss…..[our bold]

The fact the administrator has identified that the majority of the funds were paid into group companies means those funds can be clawed back from those companies.  They are debts owed to the six companies in administration. It’s now entirely possible that many other Shepherd Cox companies will begin to default on their debts when this money is called back.

For us the most interesting part of the exchange was this statement made by the Shepherd Cox directors in their letter to investors:

The value of your investment is based on the income the bedroom generates….. [our bold]

That’s an admission that the rooms were not sold at their true market value, but at a manufactured price dreamt up by the directors. The administrator’s statement that Since purchase it appears that the hotels have always traded at a loss” suggests that the rooms had no real value because whatever income they generated was wiped out by the costs of running the hotel.  None of the hotels ever made a profit from the moment Shepherd Cox took them over.

None of this has stopped Lee Bramzell from branching out into what would appear to be new ventures .  It appears to us that he’s accepted the Shepherd Cox brand is toxic and is planning to move on. He’s incorporated five new companies in the last three weeks.  They are:

1. Festival Hotels Group Limited;

2. Festival Hotels (Bournemouth) Ltd;

3. Festival Hotels (Stratford) Ltd;

4. Festival Hotels (Bath) Ltd;

5. Festival Hotels Group Team Ltd.

The Shepherd Cox investigation covered six hotels. All of them were loss-making while Lee Bramzell, Nick Carlile, Adam Stanborough and Daniel Bowden were in control. That’s not very impressive on a so-called hoteliers CV.

We’ll be very interested to see who is financing these new ventures just in case it turns out to be investors’ money. Is there really a lender willing to back Lee Bramzell’s new venture ?

To view our next article on the Shepherd Cox Investigation please click here.

 

Scam Alert

Carter Lee Financial Scam

Carter Lee Financial Scam 300 233 Adam Reeves

Carter Lee Financial Scam.

A bogus company calling itself Carter Lee Financial Services is contacting investors in the Westway Holdings bond scam stating that it has buyers for their bonds.  It does not – it is a scam.

Westway Holdings has only just gone into administration but already investors are finding themselves targeted by follow-on-fraudsters.  Carter Lee Financial Services has the email addresses and phone numbers of the investors.  There are only a few places they could have got that information.

The modus operandii of the company is to claim that the investor needs “a licence number” associated with their bond. If they have the licence number the non-existent buyer will allegedly release a large sum of money to the investor (the intended victim).  Of course nobody has a licence number because they don’t exist.  However, that isn’t a problem for CLFS.  They can arrange for the intended victim to be issued with a new licence number.  All the intended victim has to do is to transfer a few thousand pounds to the CFLS bank account in Hong Kong !  That will be the last the intended victim ever sees of that money.  The fact that they are asking for GBP suggests that they are targeting UK investors.  They don’t want any currency exchange delays because this is a straightforward smash and grab raid on their intended victims.  They know they won’t last long so they want as much as they can get right now.

The Carter Lee Financial Services scam is not a very good fraud but it’s the best they can come up with in a very short period of time. The website was only constructed in April this year.

The website is hosted out of Singapore but this is yet another follow-on-fraud which registered its domain name through a company in Russia. Here’s a typical email from the administration team.

Thank you for taking the time to speak with one of our qualified advisors. 
As a neutral third party, Carter Lee has the knowledge and foresight to guide you through investment and asset sales, whether regulated or otherwise.  
We will get back to you in due course regarding your case.
If you need more information about our company, please visit our website: https://carterleefinancial.com/
Kind regards,     
Myles Reilley
Administration Team
Carter Lee Financial

Westway Holdings investors are flavour of the month for follow-on-frauds at the moment.  Sadly they are going to be getting a lot more of them because there’s more than one crook involved in that investment.

To view our previous article on Westway Holdings please click here.

Westway Holdings is in administration so the only people any investors need to deal with are the joint administrators.

UPDATE 2nd June:

Here is the Carter Lee Financial document they have been sending out to investors (investor details redacted).  It’s the usual nonsense.

Carter Lee Financial Services_REDACTED

 

    Safe Or Scam is prohibited by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (and associated regulations) from allowing individuals ordinarily resident in Great Britain to access our pages or use our services. Please confirm your status below.

    1.  I am currently ordinarily resident in the Great Britain; or
    2.  I was ordinarily resident in the Great Britain at the time I made my investment; or
    3.  I made my investment through my company which is incorporated under the laws of England and Wales and Scotland.

    If NONE of the above apply click the box below.

    I CONFIRM THAT NONE OF THE ABOVE APPLY TO ME AND I WOULD LIKE TO ACCESS THE WEBSITE:

    I CONFIRM

    Our Scam Alert articles are sponsored by The Fraud Team Ltd, a not-for-profit UK company which is permitted to provide services to residents of Great Britain.
    If you are someone who is not permitted to visit our website because one of the boxes 1-3 apply to you, please complete the Contact Form below. Your enquiry will go The Fraud Team Ltd.






      By Submitting you agree with the SOS Privacy Policy