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October 2020

Whittley-Ryan, Baptiste & Westway Holdings

Whittley-Ryan, Baptiste & Westway Holdings 400 267 SOS Team

Whittley-Ryan, Baptiste & Westway Holdings.

Last week we published an article on St Helier Capital Management Ltd, its director Simon Whittley-Ryan and the winding up hearing held on 20th October 2020.  We mentioned that Simon Whittley-Ryan submitted a Witness Statement at the last minute which was accepted by our client’s barrister.  Our article on the hearing can be viewed here.

This week we are able to provide further clarity because the Witness Statement has been forwarded to us by our client.  It makes interesting reading.

We were surprised to find there is a link between Simon Whittley-Ryan and a company incorporated at the offices of Baptiste & Co.  Baptiste & Co was formed in June 2018 by Richard Gordon Baptiste and is allegedly an accountancy firm.  It played a key role in the Westway Holdings scam which is the subject of a Police investigation.  See here for our articles on Westway Holdings.  Westway Holdings Ltd was owned and operated by a twice convicted fraudster using a false name and it is estimated that the company took in around £25m from investors.

So Simon Whittley-Ryan, Baptiste & Westway Holdings ?  Well, at the hearing on 20th October Mr Whittley-Ryan submitted a screenshot of his personal bank account as evidence that he had the money to pay the petitioner.  He was willing to pay on behalf of the company.  A copy of that screenshot is given below.  We have blanked the names of innocent parties.

Alleged Simon Whittley-Ryan Bank Account Snapshot Submitted to the Court

This screenshot relates to the period 22nd – 24th September 2020.  We are surprised this period was submitted by Mr Whittley-Ryan.  He signed and submitted his Witness Statement on 19th October 2020 so we would have expected him to have submitted an up-to-date screenshot of his bank account, not a very small 3 day period in September.  The screenshot shows that on 22nd September he was down to £2.86 in his bank account.

Fortunately, a company called ‘World Elite Software Ltd’ came to his rescue with a payment of £20,000 on the same day.  That was lucky.  We wonder who controls the WES bank account that it was able to make such a timely deposit.

Here is a link to the Companies House entry for World Elite Software Ltd.  The company was formed a year ago in November 2019.  The Filing History shows that its registered office address was Baptiste & Co, 23 Austin Friars, London EC2N 2QP.  The People tab shows that the company director is James Clements and his correspondence address was, and still remains, the offices of Baptiste & Co.  Around this time, November 2019, Westway Holdings’ bank accounts had been frozen and that scam was starting to unravel very fast.  Westway Holdings Ltd was also registered at the Baptiste & Co office address.

Westway Holdings Ltd announced to investors that it was being refinanced by an organisation which would buy up all the existing bonds using a new fully regulated bond.  It turned out that the new regulated bond was fake and the White Knight saviour was apparently a Romanian citizen with a history in crypto-currencies which is rather worrying.  Crypto-currencies are a favourite of criminals and money-launderers because they are untraceable.

One of Simon Whittley-Ryan’s companies, Win River Developments Ltd (in liquidation), also has a relationship with a company owned and controlled by a different Romanian citizen, according to Mr Whittley-Ryan.  He has been trying to persuade both investors and the liquidator that Win River Developments had made an advance payment of £300,000 to the Romanian-owned company for ‘promotional and marketing activity’.  Yeah, right.  It’s standard practice for company directors to pay £300,000 in advance to a recently formed company with no history, no employees, no website presence and a sole Romanian director….. good luck getting people to believe that one.

So we have Simon Whittley-Ryan’s company paying an unrealistic sum of money to a Romanian citizen, and Westway Holdings Ltd allegedly due to receive an even more unrealistic sum of money from a Romanian citizen, and both have a link to Baptiste & Co.

Jump back to the bank account screenshot and we have Mr Whittley-Ryan receiving £20,000 from a company registered at the same Baptiste & Co office as Westway Holdings.

Perhaps we are reading too much into this and World Elite Software Ltd is truly a global software specialist company providing unique and valuable software to discerning customers.  Err…. I think they’re going to need put a bit of work into their website to persuade people about that one.  The website they’ve got is not really sending a World Elite Software message, but more of a “we’re definitely a scam company” message.  Here’s their website.  The company was formed 12 months ago and this is the best they can do.  This really is the only wording on their website:

“By creating and deploying ground-breaking and robust A.I. software, we aim to provide you with automated solutions to fulfil and optimise your market requirements.  We are committed to offering the trading accounts of our clients exclusive software and a support team that is active and working throughout the trading week, every hour of the day”.  That’s it.  Nothing more.

It is our opinion that World Elite Software Ltd is unlikely to be a genuine trading company and is most likely either a front for a money-laundering operation or a conduit company which allows money to be brought back into the UK and transferred on, thereby enabling the ultimate recipient to disguise the true source of the funds.

You will note that two payments of £5,000 were taken from the account.  At the moment we are unsure as to whether these were genuine payments and have been making enquiries.

On 24th September Mr Whittley-Ryan would have been feeling pretty flushed.  He received another £20,000 payment.  This time from a company called ‘Sedgwick Forbes Holding Ltd’.  Here is a link to its Companies House entry.  It was also formed in November 2019, the same month as World Elite Software.  In this case the registered office address is 8 Rutland Street, London.  This address is home to a few companies including one called ‘Global Elite Holdings Ltd’.  ‘Global Elite’ and ‘World Elite’.  That’s a coincidence.

The owner of Sedgwick Forbes Holding Ltd is Toby Meagher.  He is also director of Britannia Capital Ltd which is a company formed in 2014 by our dear friend Barbara Kahan.  Barbara is 89 and has formed more than 30,000 companies in her time.  We come across her on a regular basis.  When Barbara was running the company it was not called Britannia Capital.  It was called ‘Funbunny Ltd’.  We wonder how Barbara attracts buyers for her shelf companies.

“Looking for company ?  Funbunny available – call this number and ask for Barbara”.  I’ll bet she gets a lot of phone calls.

Toby Meagher is now plain old MR Toby Meagher now.  In the past he has used the title of SIR Toby Meagher in a couple of companies. We wonder why Sedgwick Forbes Holding Ltd paid £20,000 to Mr Whittley-Ryan.

We believe World Elite Software is worthy of a much closer inspection by the liquidators of Simon Whittley-Ryan’s three companies because it may give a clue as to where some of the investors’ money was hidden.

 

St Helier Capital Management Update

St Helier Capital Management Update 400 267 SOS Team

St Helier Capital Management Update.

On Tuesday 20th October 2020 Simon Whittley-Ryan was in court again.  This time it was in relation to a winding up petition against St Helier Capital Management Ltd (“SHCM”).  SHCM owes a lot of money to a lot of investors, both in terms of overdue interest payments and the return of their capital.

Our client has not been paid the contracted interest rate on his money for almost three years.  He has also not been refunded his capital which was due for repayment in February 2019.  The claim amount at that time, when this recovery action first started, was £32,700, but it is now significantly higher due to additional interest, court and legal fees.  There is a supporting creditor who is also a Safe Or Scam client and he is owed more than £50,000.  He is 89 years old and was persuaded to invest in St Helier Capital Management Ltd by Sami Raja.  Here is an article we published in January on Mr Raja.

Simon Whittley-Ryan has used a number of stalling tactics to drag out this case.  He has used them before in winding up petitions filed against his other companies.  You can read our previous articles about his companies here.

Mr Whittley-Ryan’s early antics included claiming that he didn’t receive the legal documents, despite them being formally served on SHCM at its registered office by an independent process server.  The process server had filed a certificate of proof of delivery to the court.  However, the Judge adjourned the case to allow for the documents to be served again.  At the next hearing, the SHCM barrister claimed that he had only just been instructed and wasn’t up to speed with the case and requested an adjournment.  That adjournment was also granted.  And so it continued.

The SHCM defence submitted by Mr Whittley-Ryan has been that the Investment Memorandum allowed the company to postpone all payments indefinitely and that our client was not entitled to be paid anything until St Helier Capital Management decided it could afford to repay him.  He cited clauses from the Companies Act which he claimed made it illegal for the company to pay the debts it owes.

After more than 18 months of delaying tactics our client found himself at what was supposed to be the final court hearing.  In the lead up to this hearing Simon Whittley-Ryan reverted to type, presumably forgetting that he had used these excuses before.  He claimed that:

  1. he had not received the court documents informing him of this hearing date so the hearing should be adjourned; and
  2. he didn’t have enough time to appoint a barrister so the hearing should be adjourned.

Fortunately, our client’s solicitor had anticipated this move and he had the bases covered.  The hearing went ahead as planned and Mr Whittley-Ryan represented the company.

Mr Whittley-Ryan produced a Witness Statement at the last minute and tried to derail the hearing asking for more time for the Witness Statement to be considered.  All Witness Statements were required by Court Order to have been submitted in May.

We are told it became clear the Judge was sympathetic to the petitioner’s claim and was considering delivering a judgement when Mr Whittley-Ryan, on behalf of St Helier Capital Management, advised the court that the company had the money and would pay our client.  The offer was accepted.

The Judge scheduled the next hearing for 25th November at which time full payment is expected to have been made.

However, we are told that Mr Whittley-Ryan then asked for more time to pay.  Mindful of his history of frustrating legal proceedings that request was refused.

The Judge reminded Mr Whittley-Ryan that he had advised the court that the company had the money and we are told the Judge then required Mr Whittley-Ryan to officially confirm to the court that the company withdrew all objections to the winding up petition and that the company accepted the petitioner’s claim as valid.  We are told that Mr Whittley-Ryan confirmed that position to the court.  At that point we believe he had little choice because it was becoming clear that a Winding Up Order would have been the likely outcome had he not offered to pay.

Our client is expecting St Helier Capital Management Ltd to pay the petition sum + interest + costs before 25th November, but we are not holding our breath.  Unfortunately, we believe this was another stalling action and we doubt the company has the money to repay our client.  We very much hope we are wrong.

There will be another St Helier Capital Management Update once payment has been received by our client, or once Mr Whittley-Ryan starts attempting to delay payment, or after the hearing on 25th November, whichever is the earliest.

Well, the promised update is now available on this link.

 

Scam Alert

Sachaso Management Consultants Scam

Sachaso Management Consultants Scam 300 233 SOS Team

Sachaso Management Consultants Scam

The Sachaso Management Consultants scam is operating a follow-on-fraud aimed at investors in Minerva Development Group Ltd (“MDG”).

MDG was closed down by the Insolvency Service earlier this month.  Here is a report from FT Advisor on the closure. 

It was not long before investors started to receive follow-on-fraud emails.  It still amazes us how quickly follow-on-fraudsters can get something out to investors.   We’ve seen a follow-on-fraud email sent to an investor less than two hours after an announcement that a company has gone into administration.  This tells us that many of the follow-on-frauds are directly linked into the sales agent companies which sell these products to investors.  This is not a scatter-gun approach i.e the fraudsters are not sending emails out to everybody and hoping some of them actually stick.  They already know that the people they are sending the emails to are investors in that product.

Here is the letter which is being sent to investors and forms the basis of the Sachaso Management Consultants scam.

Sachaso Management Consultants Scam Letter

What is interesting about this letter is that there are references to “the company in question”, “the previous company you were involved with”, “the company you were dealing with before”, “the organisations in question” and “the company in question”.  Only in one place does it actually mention the company name which in this case is described as ‘Minerva Developments’.  This is because the letter is actually a template that this scam organisation is using in many follow-on-frauds.  They’re lazy and all they want to do is type the name of the company in bold once to make it look like the letter is specific to that failed company.  They’re hoping investors won’t notice quite how lazy they are.

This is a sinister letter because they ask the investor to send through a copy of their passport or driving licence.  Once they have that there is a very real danger they’ll use it in their next scam.  We’ve had many investors contact us to say that they were scammed by a salesman called for example, Paul Bishop, but they can track him down because he was stupid enough to send them a copy of his passport to prove who he was.  He wasn’t stupid.  His name wasn’t Paul Bishop.  He just adopted the identity of an investor who had been tricked into sending a copy of their passport to him.

You can see from the letter that they give the company number for Sachaso Management Consultants Ltd.  That is a genuine company number for Sachaso Management Consultants Ltd, but these guys aren’t the genuine company.  The genuine company was incorporated in June 2014.  This letter gives the company website as sachasoltd.com.  That website domain name was bought in July 2020 and is only 3 months old.  The Sachaso Management Consultants scam is a clone of an existing company where they have stolen the company’s identity in order to scam investors.

Follow-On-Frauds can be very sophisticated.  Two weeks ago we saw one pretending to be City of London Police.  Today we saw one pretending to be from Essex Police.  It had the name of a retired Police Officer and appeared at first glance to be very believable.  These fake Police scams are not about trying to get money from investors.  They are about trying to get information which is then passed to scammers a few desks away who will use that information to try to get the money from investors.

 

Shepherd Cox Directors

Shepherd Cox Directors 400 267 SOS Team

Shepherd Cox Directors.

Shepherd Cox Directors Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile are both facing personal bankruptcy petitions filed by a creditor.  We discovered the existence of the petitions when a Safe Or Scam client attempted to file bankruptcy petitions against both men for unpaid debts and was informed by the court that another creditor had beaten him to it and had already presented bankruptcy petitions.  Our client has now registered his debt in support of the existing petitions.

We have been approached by several people who have lent large sums of money to Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile.  Anyone who is owed money can register their support for the petitions.  Here is a link to UK Government advice.

The bankruptcy petition hasn’t stopped Lee Bramzell incorporating a new company on 1st October 2020.  It is another one under the Festival Hotels brand – FESTIVAL HOTELS (CHESTER) LIMITED.  But Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile already have a company called NITE STOP LIMITED which operates a hotel in Chester.  Nite Stop is heavily in debt to other Shepherd Cox companies, many of which are in administration and are asking Nite Stop Limited to pay back their money.  If Nite Stop cannot pay then the administrator will want to confiscate any assets owned by the company so that creditors can recover something.

We hope it is not the intention of Nite Stop to try to transfer the lease to Festival Hotels so that Nite Stop is left with a mountain of debt and no assets.  That would be par for the course for Shepherd Cox.  It will be interesting to see if this happens and whether Luqa is involved in any way in helping facilitate it.  We say this because on 18th September 2020 Luqa Ltd gave a loan to Festival Hotels Group Limited.  A charge is registered against the company.

Festival Hotels companies are operating the hotels which Luqa Ltd placed into administration and which has resulted in hundreds of ordinary investors being prevented from gaining access to company records which might show where their missing millions have gone.  Luqa Ltd continues to support the Shepherd Cox directors, but it’s going to be much more difficult in future because bankrupts cannot be company directors. Neither can they control companies through front-men installed as company directors.  We will be looking for front-men being installed in the Festival Hotels companies.  The other Festival Hotels companies are:

1. Festival Hotels (Durham) Limited;

2. Festival Hotels (Halifax) Limited;

3. Festival Hotels (Northallerton) Limited;

4. Festival Loan Finance Limited.

Shepherd Cox continues to work with Simon Whittley-Ryan who has written to say that they are well-funded and they have one mission which is to quote him “Bring Down Safe Or Scam”.  We’ll still be here long after their network are made bankrupt, disqualified as directors and hopefully prosecuted for fraud.

Talking about fraud, we have quite a few Shepherd Cox clients who bought hotel rooms which do not exist. We are now working with them to push for criminal charges.

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

 

Scam Alert

Profit-ACCA.com Scam

Profit-ACCA.com Scam 300 233 SOS Team

Profit-ACCA.com scam.

We received an enquiry from someone who had invested a small amount in the Profit-ACCA.com scam.  Profit-ACCA claims to be a crypto-currency trading platform operated by the UK company Profit ACCA Ltd.  It even has a copy of the incorporation certificate on the website.  Here is a link to the website, but do not pay anything to them.

The website claims that the platform has 1 million+ traders, but the website has been up for less than three months because the domain name was purchased in July 2020.  The UK company has been around for a bit longer.  It was incorporated in April 2018, however the sole director Scott Watson filed to dissolve the company.  Companies House has published the intent to dissolve the company and it will be dissolved on 18th October unless someone can prove that the company traded and lodges an objection at Companies House.

The investor wrote to tell us that she wanted to withdraw her profits, but the only way she would be allowed to do that was if she upgraded to a higher level account which meant paying more money in.  We have seen this type of scam many times where the small print restricts investors from withdrawing money.  The reality is that there are no profits.  The money was stolen as soon as the investor paid it in and they have just been watching a software program which makes it look like trading has been taking place.  None of the trades are real and the crooks have stolen the money.  That is the Profit-ACCA.com scam.

The difficulty is proving that the website profit-ACCA.com was actually operated by the UK company called Profit ACCA Ltd.  Scammers often clone the names of legitimate companies. If the website is a clone and it isn’t really operated by Profit ACCA Ltd then the dissolution of the company might disrupt the scam a bit. Hopefully potential investors will see this article or check at Companies House in the future and will not invest.

If you are interested in investing in Bitcoin or in trading Bitcoins (and we have no idea why anyone would ever be interested in doing either because they would be swimming with sharks), then take some screenshots of the profit-acca.com website.  This is what a scam website looks like.  These website templates are passed around amongst scammers.  If any other trading platform site looks like this you can be sure it is a scam.

 

    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 click THIS LINK to go through to The Fraud Team Ltd website.