Monthly Archives :

February 2021

Scam Alert

Harvard Capital Scam

Harvard Capital Scam 300 233 SOS Team

Harvard Capital Scam.

A company calling itself Harvard Capital is perpetrating a follow-on-fraud against investors who have lost money to scams.  It is clear that Harvard Capital has obtained a list of investors from one or more of the sales agent companies which sell unregulated investments and is cold-calling investors pretending to be from The Insolvency Service.  This is quite a common scam which we come across on a regular basis.

The story they give investors is that the Insolvency Service has passed the case to Harvard Capital and the investor will be hearing from Harvard Capital very soon.  Sure enough, a few hours later the investor receives an email from Harvard Capital with a number of attachments. See below:

From: Harvard Capital <admin@harvardcapital.co.uk>
Date:
Subject: HARVARD CAPITAL
To:

Dear

Please find attached documentation pertaining to the transposition of your investment portfolio including an invoice for the UCIS fee due, alongside our terms and conditions. Your allocated corporate adviser will be in touch in order to finalise your account.

Kind regards,
Thomas Baker – Head Secretary   

E: admin@harvardcapital.co.uk

T: 0207 867 3729

HARVARD CAPITAL LTD

The attachments include a fake letter claiming to be from the Insolvency Service, a Cover Letter and a contract.  They can be viewed below.

FAKE_Insolvency Service Letter_Harvard Capital_Redacted

FAKE_Harvard Capital_Cover Letter_Redacted

FAKE_Contract_Harvard Capital_Redacted

There is a genuine company called Harvard Capital Ltd, but they will not be involved in this scam.  The scammers have cloned their details.

You may have noted in the fake Insolvency Service letter that Harvard Capital is not mentioned.  The company which is mentioned is Decca Capital.  This is because in their haste to launch the Harvard Capital scam they used one of their previous Insolvency Service follow-on-fraud letters and forgot to change the details.  That may be obvious to a lot of people, but there will be some investors who do not spot this and are persuaded by the unsolicited telephone calls that the scam is genuine.  If you have fallen victim to a fake Insolvency Service scam report it to the Police.

 

Scam Alert

European Property Coin Is Back

European Property Coin Is Back 300 233 SOS Team

European Property Coin is back yet again proving that some scams never die, they just get rehashed and come back as another follow-in-fraud attempt.

In January 2019 one of our clients filed a winding up petition against Clear View Marketing Services Ltd [LINK], the company behind the totally fake digital currency scam titled ‘European Property Coin’. The petition was successful and the company was placed into liquidation in April 2019.  Since then there have been several follow-on-frauds claiming to have recovered money for investors. We have collected more than 50 bank accounts which have been used in these follow-on-frauds.

With Bitcoin hitting new highs it was inevitable that the fraudsters would dust off one of their digital currency scams. Follow-On-Frauds are perpetrated by organised criminal groups. They take millions of pounds every year. Here is the email which is being sent to investors.

From: Euro Property Coin <info@europeanpropertycoin.com>
To: “info@europeanpropertycoin.com” <info@europeanpropertycoin.com>
Sent: Monday, February 22, 2021,
Subject: ***EPC HOLDER IMPORTANT INFORMATION”

Dear EPC owners,

Firstly we would like to start by apologising for the lack of contact over recent months, we have been working tirelessly on making the required changes to the blockchain and wallet files to allow for our listing to take place.

I am pleased to confirm that we are now listed on SouthXChange, the link for the trading pair is in the signature below.

We are currently in a very good period for the performance of digital currencies as a whole, our aim is to now have EPC (or as it is now referred to on SouthXChange EUPC) trading in the top 500-1000 of digital currencies, we are currently ranked at just over 4000.

In order for the coin to become profitable and liquid for all of you who invested earlier, we will need the trading volumes to pick up and for all investors to please remain calm when it comes to selling. If you all try sell at once we will crash the price of the coin and it will be difficult to recover. The coin has traded between 2 and 20 pence on the exchange so far, and we want to be trading at the higher end of the spectrum.

We would please urge that you refrain from selling straight away as the volumes aren’t there at the moment, we need to build the volumes in order to increase the coins rank, once increased the volume will continue to grow naturally but it will take some work to get there.

How can you help? Each investor can help by opening their account with SouthXChange, before you can start listing your coins you will need to update your wallet software, the link can be found on our website listed below.

We will never ask investors to buy more EUPC from us as the ICO stage is over but we would request for investors to deposit a minimal amount (even £20-£50, and no more than £200) onto SouthXChange and buy Bitcoin with this, then use those minimal amounts to help us increase the trading volumes. This will help yourself and all other investors by increasing the trading volumes in EUPC. The coin is currently traded to BTC only and the link for the pairing is listed below. By making small trades (even £10-£20) this will rank the coin up gradually, allowing for a more liquid opportunity and therefore opportunities for investors to sell and with positive market conditions we can make a profit.

This email is used for support purposes only, most instructions you will find on SouthXChange website but if you need help then please contact us via email.

Support Team
European Property Coin
wwww.europeanpropertycoin.com
Now trading on SouthXChange via the following link
https://main.southxchange.com/Market/Book/EUPC/BTC***Please note Euro Property Coin nor SouthXChange will never charge you an upfront fee to sell your coins, please be extremely wary of any such offers***

This email is intended for the sole recipient only, if you have received this email in error then please remove it from your system. Sharing the contents of this email without prior consent is an offence. Checks have been made to ensure the content of this email and any or all attachments are free from viruses, however we cannot guarantee this and we take no responsibility for any viruses found in emails.

 

Clear View Marketing Services Ltd was established by Florian Pierini. Mr Pierini was recently charged with conspiracy to defraud and launder money in relation to the Essex and London Properties scam.  You can read more about that scam on this link.

When the intended victim opens an account with SouthXChange they will fill in their bank details to make the small purchase. Whatever Bitcoins they buy will end up in the scammers wallet and the scammers will then make as many large unauthorised Bitcoin purchases as they can until the investor spots it or their bank recognises the transactions are unusual and freezes the account. By that point the investor could have lost tens of thousands. NEVER SIGN UP TO A DIGITAL CURRENCY ACCOUNT AT THE REQUEST OF ANY ORGANISATION.

 

Qualiacare Investors

Qualiacare Investors 300 300 SOS Team

Qualiacare Investors.

Quite often hotel room and care home room scams turn out to be a minefield of cross-company loans, massively over-priced rooms and opaque transactions making it very difficult to see where the money has gone. Qualiacare is no exception.

It is bad enough that investors have to deal with an administrator which rushed through a transfer of assets in record time back to the original founder of the scheme (which is to be expected when the administrator was appointed by him), but now they also have to deal with a highly questionable ‘Qualiacare Investors Group’ founded by some of the people who actually sold Qualiacare to investors in the first place.

One of those people is Roberto Pancaldi. He is one of the sales agents behind the Qualiacare Investors Group and he sold investments in a number of scam hotels and care homes, including Qualiacare and Northern Powerhouse Developments.

Mr Pancaldi has gone to great efforts to persuade investors not to deal with Safe Or Scam. We had clients in Qualiacare long before it collapsed and had already begun a legal recovery process against the companies to recover their investments. Qualiacare knew our clients were intending to wind up the companies so they jumped into administration before the moratorium on the filing of winding up petitions ended.

The reality is that in cases like Qualia the FSMA regulations are clear. The sales agents are equally liable to compensate investors as much as the Qualia companies themselves. That is a fact and is something Mr Pancaldi and his preferred solicitor has not mentioned to the investor group. The solicitor should be pursuing that as a course of action to benefit the majority of his clients, but he is not. He’s not going to bite the hand that feeds him.

Roberto Pancaldi likes to work with one solicitor and to claim successes on behalf of investors. However, these are hollow victories which do not result in any recovery of money or even the chance of recovering more money. In fact, the involvement of his solicitor has resulted in investors being out of pocket. We are not going to mention the solicitor at this point because we have written to the firm he works for and asked them to answer some basic questions. It is possible they do not know what he has been doing and therefore they would not deserve adverse publicity. Neither the law firm nor the solicitor in question specialise in insolvency law or financial regulations law and that shows up in his work.

Mr Pancaldi claims that a judgement in a case against NPD administrator Duff & Phelps resulted in his solicitor setting a completely new precedent. He claims that due to his solicitor’s efforts if an administrator or liquidator wants to sell a property it needs the permission of all leaseholders. He has been telling investors this story to get them to sign up and it is complete rubbish. Since that case properties have been sold and continue to be sold without any recourse to leaseholders. The Duff & Phelps case should never have been presented to court because it was seriously flawed and was always going to be kicked out. The law allows an administrator to ask a court to cancel leases if the administrator can prove it would lead to a higher sale price for a property which would ultimately benefit creditors. The principle of the law is to protect many leaseholders being held to ransom by a few.  In the NPD case there were secured creditors. Leaseholders are unsecured creditors. The Judge was smart enough to realise that if the leases had been cancelled and the property was sold for a much higher amount, all of the money would have gone to the secured creditors. He was being asked to cancel leases owned by unsecured creditors so that secured creditors could benefit. The Judge quite rightly refused to cancel the leases and was not pleased that the case had been brought before the court.

Mr Pancaldi’s solicitor also opposed a request for a billing order by the Carlauren administrator. The Judge refused the application to allow the administrator to use funds raised from the sale of assets in one Carlauren company to be used to pay the administrator fees in other Carlauren companies.

What was the outcome in terms of money being returned to investors or a potential increased return to leaseholders from the administration ? Neither of these cases resulted in any improvement for leaseholders in monetary terms. Both the NPD properties and the Carlauren properties have continued to be sold when offers have come in. The prices have not been very high and if there has been a secured creditor which was owed a sum greater than the sale price then the money has gone to it. Nothing changed.

But the solicitor did very well out of it. The solicitor sent in bills of hundreds of thousands of pounds in both cases. They were so high that they have been challenged and will be going back to court. This would all be fine if the actions resulted in any increased return to investors, but they don’t. We have investors in Carlauren Group and we ask for regular updates on progress. We have been told that the administrator’s team make a point of answering every enquiry, but they are becoming frustrated by the way that the administration costs are being pushed up by one solicitor’s daft proposals such as:

– That the leases should not be enforceable against the leaseholders, but be enforceable against the freeholder.  The suggestion is that a leaseholder should only have to honour the clauses which it likes and ignore the ones that it doesn’t like.

– That the administrators should transfer the properties to a Trust with a value of NIL for the benefit of leaseholders. If he had even the most basic understanding of insolvency law he would know that the administrator would lose its licence if it were to do that. An administrator cannot transfer assets away to benefit one group of creditors.

– That it is the responsibility of the administrators to carry out investigations into the UK financial regulations which might apply to the companies. Needless to say that’s another example where the administrators have had to educate this lawyer on what the role of an administrator actually is.

To ordinary investors who don’t know the law it looks like the solicitor is really good because he writes lots of very long letters. The problem is that every time an administrator or its lawyer writes back to explain why the solicitor is wrong again, they raise a bill against the administration. Creditors will be left with less money at the end of it.

Roberto Pancaldi is the director of SOCInvest Services Ltd, SOCInvest LLP and MarcNico Ltd. We’ve included a link to MarcNico Ltd because there is an interesting charge over the company. It appears that one of the collapsed NPD companies gave a loan to Mr Pancaldi’s company. Scam companies don’t normally give loans to room owners so why was it favoured in such a way ?

So what is happening with the Qualiacare Investor Group ? Well, by our reckoning Mr Pancaldi’s solicitor has been paid almost £60,000 so far by Qualiacare investors, but hasn’t actually made it clear how he is going to ensure that investors end up with a better outcome by using his services. There has to be SRA guidance about a solicitor taking on clients in fields where the lawyer has no experience. There is definitely a FCA regulation about anyone acting as a recruiter for law firms and it is clear that is what Mr Pancaldi and associates have been doing. The Qualiacare Investors Group founders have been very clever. They’ve split it up to make it look like individual investors have approached other investors but we know that is not the case. It is particularly worrying that investors have been used as a front by a small group of sales agents without any warning as to the potential repercussions for them of putting their name to these communications.

The email broadcasts made by the group come from an address in Havant. There is no name given which is odd. The address is the registered office address of PLC Property Ltd.  This is a company owned by Paul Cronin (one of the ‘co-ordinators’) and Linda Cronin. If anyone has any information on their involvement with Qualiacare we would like to hear it. Their involvement may be completely innocent or they may be another sales agent looking to divert attention away from their role in the scam.

Mr Pancaldi has some explaining to do. The FCA are involved in the Qualiacare case and we believe they should extend their interest to the Qualiacare Investors Group just to make sure that investors are not being taken for another ride.  One of the dangers of investors giving personal details to sales agents is that investors often start to receive follow-on-fraud approaches.

We advise any investor who has paid money as a result of a communication from the Qualiacare Investors Group or one of their co-ordinators to keep all their emails and other records. This should include what they were told about the solicitor’s role in NPD and Carlauren because there is evidence that investors were not told the truth. There may well be the potential to make a claim against the parties involved, including the solicitor, if it turns out that this is just a money-making scheme and that investors end up worse off as a result.

To view a recent update on the Qualiacare case please visit this St Camillus Investor article [LINK] which involves the same people.

Anyone who received an approach relating to the Pancaldi proposal, or who feels they may have been misled into becoming a client of the law firm or in agreeing to become an ‘investor co-ordinator’ should contact the Supervisor Hub at The Financial Conduct Authority [LINK].  

 

GIS Forestry Bonds

GIS Forestry Bonds 360 240 SOS Team

GIS Forestry Bonds.

A few years ago GIS Forestry Ltd sold fixed-term bonds to investors. The bonds paid 10% interest. Now that the bonds are falling due for repayment the company is defaulting on the repayment of both capital and interest. Here is a link to their website.

We have been trying for some time to recover our client’s money, but have been getting responses from the company which call into question their honesty. We think Guy Conroy, the CEO, is not telling the truth. Mr Conroy claims that he called a bondholder meeting by Zoom which was held on 18th September 2020. He claims there was a vote by show of hands which agreed that capital repayments could be deferred for 12 months. He claims that our client will have received notification of that because he sent a letter out on 1st September 2020 advising investors of the meeting. Our client did not receive that letter.

When asked to produce copies of the correspondence in January of this year he sent through the letter of 1st September 2020 and also a second letter dated 21st September 2020 which he claims notified bondholders of the outcome of the meeting. Our client did not receive that letter either. One has to wonder why GIS Forestry did not email their clients and attach those letters. They email their clients all the time. We think they didn’t email their clients because these letters weren’t written in September 2020. We believe they were written in January 2021 when we asked to see them.

Why do we think that ? One reason is that the letter allegedly sent out on 1st September 2020 did not lay out the motions that investors would be asked to vote on. Also, it did not include a proxy voting form which would have allowed bondholders to send in their votes by post. Also, and quite bizarrely, it did not give details of how to join the Zoom meeting. The letter said that bondholders should respond to the letter and then they would be given details of the meeting. Now, let’s assume that there never was a Zoom meeting. How would you cover that up ? Well, you definitely can’t put the Zoom meeting details into the letter of 1st September 2020 because we would be able to check the link to see if the meeting was ever held. Mr Conroy has been asked several times to provide the link but has not done so.

Then we looked at the letter which GIS Forestry claims was written on 21st September 2020. It says that the motion was carried to defer the repayment of capital for one year because “more than 75% of bondholders have accepted the proposal”.

Our client wrote to Mr Conroy to ask why he did not receive either of those letters in the post and why they weren’t also emailed out to him. He also asked him to provide further details of the Zoom meeting including the link and details of attendance etc. Mr Conroy responded to say that there were 27 responses to his letter of 1st September and that 16 people attended the Zoom meeting. He still did not provide the link details. He said that after the meeting they communicated the outcome only to those that responded to the letter. That is very hard to believe. An alleged meeting is held at which it is claimed that 16 bondholders voted to defer repayment of capital and the company decides NOT to inform all of its bondholders about that ! That just doesn’t ring true. We have asked to see the recording of the meeting because for something as important as this the company would have recorded it. We still haven’t been given the original meeting link or the recording.

We have now pointed out to Mr Conroy that Clause 10 in the Loan Note Instrument requires 75% of ALL bondholders to agree, not 75% of those attending. We do not know how many bondholders there are, but according to Mr Conroy there are at least 27.  A vote by 16 is not even 75% of those who responded to the letter. Therefore, the motion is invalid and our client is still demanding to be repaid.

Our client is particularly unhappy about this attempt to delay payment because page 22 of the sales brochure contained a list of FAQs. One of those was:  Question – Can the terms of the bond be amended ? Answer – No. Our client bought a 3-year bond and that time is up.

The other thing that gives us a lot of concern about this bond is the involvement of Graham Arnott.  Mr Arnott’s companies are involved in many scams. In the GIS Forestry bonds investment Mr Arnott’s companies have four roles. His companies are the accountants for GIS, the escrow account holder for the funds, the bond registrar and finally, the Insecurity Trustee. Most bonds like to refer to this role as Security Trustee, but there’s never any security. We can guarantee that when Jade State Wealth is listed as the Security Trustee bondholders will have no security.

What is the alleged role of a Security Trustee ? It is supposed to hold charges over assets to protect the capital of investors. It sounds really good on paper, but its true role is to provide an obstacle to prevent investors from taking action against the company. If an investor has an issue and takes it to the Insecurity Trustee they are told that the Trustee needs 75% of investors to agree before it can do anything. When the investor asks to be put in contact with other investors they are told that the Trustee can’t do that for confidentiality reasons. When Graham Arnott’s companies are earning fees from holding four different roles it is very clear whose side he is on.

Our client would like other GIS Forestry bond investors to join him in taking action against the company. If you are a bondholder please make contract.

GIS Forestry Bonds.

 

Shepherd Cox Legal Action

Shepherd Cox Legal Action 400 267 SOS Team

Shepherd Cox Legal Action

Earlier this week, a UK solicitor representing a large group of Shepherd Cox hotel room investors issued the first letters of claim to some of the parties involved.  This is the first stage in a process which is expected to end up in court.  The action is fully funded for investors and is being undertaken on a no-win no-fee basis.  The claim has been made because it is believed the opponents have the resources to compensate investors for their losses.

It has taken us a long time to bring this together because the investors are located all over the world, but now that the primary claim has started our attention can move on to the other parties involved and the role they played in the formation, financial support, promotion or sale of these hotel rooms.  We expect claims for compensation to be sent to those parties in the near future.

Efforts are ongoing to investigate where investors’ money ended up.  Approximately £10m is unaccounted for.  Mr Elliott Shaun Webster, a chartered accountant and director of Aquaco Water Recycling Ltd, By Loans Ltd and more importantly the beneficial owner of Luqa Ltd, has been a long-term financial backer of Lee Bramzell and the Shepherd Cox companies.  For almost two years he was a director of Shepherd Cox Hotels Holdings Ltd, the company which sat at the top of the Shepherd Cox pyramid.

Luqa Ltd, based in Malta, stepped in to put some of the non-investor hotels into administration with an administrator friendly to its cause.  It has been alleged that this was in order to prevent the incumbent administrator of the six Shepherd Cox hotel companies gaining access to the records of Shepherd Cox Hotels Holdings Ltd and other Luqa-linked hotels.  Those records would show the money trail because it is believed that Shepherd Cox Hotels Holdings Ltd benefitted from room investors’ money and used it to acquire hotels for itself.

As expected, seven months later and the Shepherd Cox Hotels Holdings Ltd administrator is still not releasing information about the company.  It has been suggested to us that Mr Webster may have been on the board solely to protect his investment.  If that’s the case then why not instruct his administrator to release the company records ?  It looks like a cover-up to us.  Luqa Ltd is now financially supporting Lee Bramzell and Festival Hotels Group Ltd.

Until there is transparency in the dealings of the Shepherd Cox group of companies there will always be a question mark over the hotels below.  Some of them may be subject to claims made by room investors in the future and that is one of the avenues we are exploring.  The hotels are:

The Crab & Lobster and Crab Manor at Thirsk;

Bridge Hotel & Spa at Wetherby;

Three Ways House Hotel at Chipping Campden;

Wroxton House Hotel at Banbury;

Allerton Court Hotel at Northallerton;

The Olde Barn Hotel at Grantham;

Hallgarth Manor Hotel at Durham;

The Comfort Inn at Sunderland;

The New Hobbit Inn at Sowerby Bridge.

Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile both explained the involvement of Shepherd Cox Hotels Holdings Ltd in some of these hotels in their IVA Proposals:

“Four of the companies (those operating Bridge Hotel, Olde Barn Hotel, Comfort Inn and Crab & Lobster Hotel & Restaurant) were previously ultimately wholly owned by Shepherd Cox Hotels Holdings Ltd,…..”

The moral standards of some UK insolvency firms are being called into question.  It seems to us that far too many of them are supporting scams and using UK insolvency regulations to frustrate victims from obtaining justice.

We are currently working with investor groups on similar scams and will be publishing details in the near future.

Shepherd Cox Legal Action.

 

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