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April 2021

Texmoore Scam Update 1

Texmoore Scam Update 1 300 224 SOS Team

Texmoore Scam Update 1.

Just before Christmas we were asked to investigate a loan note scam operated by Texmoore Ltd [LINK HERE].  The other parties named in the scam were Sentor Solutions Ltd and Sentor Solutions Advisory Ltd.

The brochure described the investment as loan notes.  The funds would be used to invest in residential, commercial and student developments.  It stated that there was a “Security Trustee” in place to protect investors’ funds and that Sentor Solutions Advisory Ltd, which is FCA-regulated, was that Security Trustee.  Readers of our articles will know our opinions on ‘Security Trustees’.  They are installed to provide false reassurance to investors and allow scammers to perpetrate their scams for much longer.

There was a letter from Sentor Solutions Advisory Ltd in the brochure confirming its appointment.  It was later claimed that the Security Trustee was not Sentor Solutions Advisory Ltd.  It was Sentor Solutions Ltd.  This is a separate company which is not FCA-regulated.  It was owned by the scammers themselves.  Sentor Solutions Advisory Ltd denied all knowledge of the Texmoore scam.

The FCA put out a warning about Texmoore Ltd which can be seen here [LINK].

Quite often it’s the case that scammers will use the identity of an FCA-regulated company to add credibility to their investment.  In most cases the target company is unaware its name is being used by scammers.

Sentor Solutions Ltd was incorporated in 2012.  It’s been around a long time but that doesn’t tell us very much because it was formed by our old friend Barbara Kahan.  We call her an old friend for two reasons.  The first is because we come across her all the time.  She has owned more than 30,000 companies.  Barbara forms companies, opens bank accounts and then lets the package sit on the shelf until a scammer comes along and buys the package.  In this way the scammer gains control of a company and a bank account without ever having to reveal his identity.

The other reason we refer to Barbara as an old friend is because she is 90 years old.  It’s fair to assume that she is not sitting in her armchair with her computer in her lap forming new companies and opening bank accounts eight hours a day.  If she’s still alive she either doesn’t have a clue her identity is being used, or she does and doesn’t care because she’s 90 and knows she won’t be prosecuted. Who knows.

Scammers like to have companies which have history because it allows them to say that the company has been trading since 2012.  Investors rarely look at the annual account filings at Companies House which show NIL income year after year.  A quick look at those accounts would have made investors think twice.

What interests us is when a Barbara Kahan company transfers into new ownership.  That’s when the scam actually starts.  In the case of Sentor Solutions Ltd that was January 2019.

Texmoore Ltd was also a Barbara Kahan company, this time going back to 2013.  However, that was transferred into new ownership in February 2019.  In the space of a few weeks at the start of 2019 the pieces of the scam were being put in place.

Texmoore Ltd filed annual accounts in August 2019, six months after purchase.  According to this wonderful piece of fiction the company went from NIL income to a valuation of £27m in the space of six months.  But clearly this stellar performance could not be sustained because by the middle of 2020 their website was gone, their emails didn’t work and all the phone numbers were dead.  Scam over – people gone – dead end ?

Not exactly.  This is where the story gets interesting.  When we were first contacted about Texmoore we did our usual thing.  We gather the information from the victim and we spend maybe 30 minutes checking things out.  We went back to the victim and said that one of the companies had registered their office in an old derelict bank which was empty, the perpetrators were most likely using false names, the money would not be in the accounts any longer and the chance of recovering any money would be slim.  We recommended that she file an Action Fraud report and lobby the Police to pick up the case because it would not be cost-effective for her to pay us to undertake a more detailed review.  She might not ever recover any money.

We were contacted by other investors and we told them the same thing.  Then, a few weeks ago we were contacted by another investor.  We said the same thing and he said he didn’t care.  He would pay for us to review his case.  We told him to think about it for a while because it would be unlikely he would recover any money.  He did think about it and came back to say “I want to do it”.

We started looking into Texmoore Ltd, Sentor Solutions Ltd and Sentor Solutions Advisory Ltd. Three companies.  By the end of the first week we had looked at dozens of companies and countless individuals.  We found that the Texmoore scam had been replicated twice.  It is a network of scammers and they are running / have run at least three separate scams that we have discovered so far, all involving loan notes for the same fake purposes.

More importantly, we believe we have identified a potential recovery route for investors.  We say ‘potential’ because there’s still some way to go, but the route does exist, whereas before we started the investigation we thought it would most likely not identify any recovery options.

We are quite limited in what we can publish.  We have notified City Of London Police about the other scams and we have provided them with some names.

This is where it gets a bit strange.  During our investigation into all these different companies and linked individuals we came across the investor’s name.  A man with the same name and of the same age was a director of one of these companies.

This could mean that the man is involved in some way and came to us to find out what we know about the scam, or it could be that the scammers have used the investor’s ID documents to form a scam company.  We have seen that several times before.  We even published an article where we were checking out a company director and he sent us a copy of his passport to prove his identity.  We published the passport photo page and were contacted by the son of the passport holder who told us that this was his father and he had invested in a scam.  His father had dementia issues and had made some bad investments.  The original scam had collapsed so the scammers moved on to a new one.  They used the investor’s identity to form the new company and open a bank account.

We’ve gone back to the investor to ask for more information before we send anything to him.

Texmoore Scam Update 1.

Qualiacare Deception

Qualiacare Deception 400 267 SOS Team

Qualiacare Deception.

Further to our recent article on Alastair Dobbie and Qualiacare [LINK HERE] we have some additional information concerning the Qualiacare deception and manipulation of the insolvency process.

When the scam companies collapsed, Alastair Dobbie somewhat bizarrely chose to approach Qualiacare investors under the Shortlands Law banner.  Shortlands specialises in Family Law (divorces, child custody etc).  B&M Law would surely have been a better choice as they are a law firm which deals with property issues and he has a role as consultant solicitor at that firm.  Our previous article explains why he may have wanted his involvement with B&M Law to remain a secret.  The most worrying aspect is that he never declared his involvement in the scam to his newly acquired clients.  We assumed that Shortlands Law would want to get to the bottom of this.

We emailed Shabana Walayat and Wajiha Shah with the questions below and didn’t receive any answers.  We emailed again once it became clear Alastair Dobbie and the investor co-ordinators he and Roberto Pancaldi had established, were negotiating with Robin Forster.  Mr Forster was subject to a worldwide freezing order obtained by the FCA.  The freezing order was known to Alastair Dobbie.  The head of the co-ordinators is Mr Nico Bruyniks and he has confirmed he is a client of Alastair Dobbie / Shortlands Law so we presume he was also made aware of it. At the moment we believe Mr Bruyniks has genuine intentions, but he may have been misled. We will know more in the next 24 hours.

We were surprised to hear that Mr Bruyniks and/or Alastair Dobbie were negotiating to have the care home freeholds transferred at under-value to a new Austrian company they had established (both Alastair Dobbie and Nico Bruyniks are based in Austria), The freezing order made it clear that:

“Any person who knows of the First Defendant’s [Robin Forster’s] undertakings and/or this Order and does anything which helps or permits Robin Scott Forster to breach the terms of his undertakings may also be held to be in contempt of court and may be imprisoned, fined or have their assets seized”.  

We were even more surprised when we were told they had persuaded Robin Forster to agree to put the PAHL companies into a CVA process.  This was without prior FCA approval.  The Qualiacare deception is murky enough without private deals being done behind closed doors.  It seems the deal which has been agreed includes rewarding Robin Forster for assisting their group. This is a man who took £50m from investors and had agreed to pay £6.5m back to them over the next nine years ! He took £4.5m from investors for rooms in care homes that he didn’t own, but the deal being proposed by this group is that his new company is going to be allowed to run the care homes !

We expect the investors who paid the £4.5m to challenge this deal.  They come so far down the pecking order that they will never see any money.  All of this was done against a backdrop of the care homes being transferred out of the ownership of Qualiacare Developments Ltd and Qualiacare Properties Ltd to new companies (the PAHL companies) owned by Robin Forster. This was facilitated by the insolvency firm appointed by Mr Forster, Auker Rhodes.  Mr Forster puts quite a lot of business their way so they quite like him. They like him so much that they declared they had no intention of trying to recover any money from him !

The transfer was done against the express instructions of the FCA who advised that no assets were to be transferred. I think most people are expecting the FCA, or any new insolvency firm, to return those assets back to those companies. If the FCA doesn’t act then it is a clear signal to other scammers that the FCA doesn’t care so they can ignore any FCA intervention and do what they like.

At a couple of recently choreographed creditors’ Zoom meetings organised by Auker Rhodes, one for QCD and another for QCP, it became apparent that a deal had been done.  Alastair Dobbie was given a disproportionate amount of time to wax lyrical about himself and his services.  Any dissenting voices were muted out and not given an opportunity to question his pitch to creditors.  Auker Rhodes announced to the surprise of many that it had changed the room investor claim values.  It had previously published the claim values in its Administrators Reports which are available for public viewing on [THIS LINK] and [THIS LINK].  Auker Rhodes made the announcement without any prior notice to creditors.  The effect of this sudden change was to increase the value of Alastair Dobbie’s and Nico Bruyniks’ proxy votes in order to give them a voting majority so they could force through the appointment of Alastair Dobbie and Roberto Pancaldi to the creditor’s committees of both companies.  That’s what some might call manipulating the UK’s insolvency process to favour one form of creditor.

It is incredible that Mr Bruyniks would use the proxy votes he had obtained from investors to vote a solicitor and his sales agent partner onto creditor’s committees.  These are people who were involved in selling and arranging deals in this scam. They may be subject to prosecution by investors under the very same regulations that the FCA is applying in this case. We are not convinced that investors who have allowed Mr Bruyniks to vote for them would want to see anyone involved in putting investors into the scam on creditors’ committees.  We’re also pretty sure most of them don’t want to see the salesmen and their lawyer partners receiving any more fees from their continued involvement in the scam. 

The investor co-ordinators who were put in place by the salesman Roberto Pancaldi will be asking investors which way they want them to vote. We recommend that investors make their feelings known and insist that nobody involved in putting investors into the scam should be given any role whatsoever. 

SHORTLANDS LAW COMMUNICATIONS

Here are the questions we asked Shortlands Law:

1. Were you aware that Alastair Dobbie is a consultant solicitor with B&M Law ?

2. Were you aware that B&M Law was involved in the sale of leases to investors in the Northern Powerhouse Developments, Carlauren, Qualiacare and St Camillus scams when you began approaching investors to offer legal services ?

3. Are you aware of the SRA Warnings that law firms should not get involved in high-risk investments, including the sale of hotel rooms, and that law firms and lawyers who do get involved could be liable to compensate investors for their losses ?

4. If the answer to any of the above is Yes, please can you explain the level of Mr Dobbie’s involvement at B&M Law, the duties he performed and why this was not communicated to the victims of scams before they instructed your law firm. Do you regard Alastair Dobbie as having a conflict of interest ?

5. Has Alastair Dobbie or Shortlands notified the investor groups that legal advisers who were negligent in their advice to clients can be liable to compensate investors and that may include a law firm associated with Alastair Dobbie, and even Alastair Dobbie himself ?

6. Does Alastair Dobbie and/or Shortlands have any financial arrangement with Roberto Pancaldi or any of his companies to pay him any commissions, introduction fees or any other compensation relating to the introduction of clients or to the provision of services related to investments ? If so, why has this not been declared to investors who have made financial contributions for recovery action services ? If such an arrangement exists and has not been declared to clients this would raise serious questions as to the honesty and integrity of the people involved.

7. Are any parties paid any commission, introduction fee or other compensation and if so, which parties ?

8. Is it acceptable for Alastair Dobbie to write letters to investors and not sign them ? Are you aware of any occasions where he has done this ? Investors who have been duped into becoming ‘investor co-ordinators’ are being asked to send out letters under their own name when those letters were not written by them.

9. In light of the information in this article do you feel that Shortlands should now self-report to the SRA requesting them to investigate ?

We also asked whether Shortlands Law Firm was aware of any regulatory investigations involving Mr Dobbie’s conduct.  They did not respond.

In our email to them we wrote “ It is unfortunate that Shortlands should find itself drawn into the murky world of unregulated investment scams and unscrupulous sales agents on high commissions, We are happy to amend any element of our article which is incorrect.  We do not know the terms of Mr Dobbie’s contract with yourselves, but as he is acting under the Shortlands name it is obviously your firm which has to deal with enquiries. We are happy to publish an update / clarification once the questions have been answered. We regard the exploitation of victims of scams as a serious issue and we are sure that you do too”.

It doesn’t look like they do regard it as a serious issue.  They did not answer any of the questions. Neither did they raise any issues with our published article which suggests we were spot on with our analysis.

We also sent these questions to the investor co-ordinators so that they could ask them too. We thought they would want to get answers to these questions so that they could inform the investors who they had persuaded to sign up with them.  Unfortunately they also didn’t want investors to know the truth because if they ever bothered to ask the questions to Shortlands or Alastair Dobbie they haven’t passed the answers on to the investors. We have started communications with Mr Bruyniks and asked again for him to obtain answers to these questions. He has not yet confirmed whether he will do so. We believe the co-ordinators and Alastair Dobbie need to be transparent with investors. 

We will provide an update very soon based on their response. We also raised the issue of Alastair Dobbie’s latest efforts in the Qualiacare case with Shortlands.

“Dear Ms Walayat

 We have been informed by a Shortlands client that Alastair Dobbie has advised him Shortlands is negotiating with Robin Forster of Qualiacare to obtain a Heads Of Terms Agreement to transfer the freeholds of care homes to a select group of creditors. Mr Dobbie says he anticipates that completing within the next two weeks. 

You will be aware that the FCA obtained a worldwide freezing order on all Robin Forster’s assets. He is forbidden by Court Order from entering into any agreements which might diminish any of his personal assets. This includes his companies’ assets and those that the FCA regard as assets of the administration of QCP and QCD. You will be aware that the FCA are seeking to have the freehold assets which were improperly transferred to 13 Forster SPVs returned to QCP and QCD.

Notwithstanding the fact that the transaction would be challenged by both the FCA and other creditors, for a law firm to encourage a person subject to a Court Order to enter into an agreement which would breach that Order is clearly holding both the Judge and the Court in contempt. We also have evidence of Mr Dobbie’s advice to Mr Bruyniks to lead this action on behalf of non-clients.

We asked a specialist litigation solicitor to comment on some of the communications which have been sent out by investor co-ordinators to investors.  It was his view that the ‘co-ordinators’ should take legal advice from someone who understands the law because they were potentially placing themselves in a position where creditors could sue them.  All creditors should remember that if things do not work out as they have been promised they may have a claim.

Our last email did finally elicit a response from Shortlands Law Firm. This is what it said:

“Please refrain from contacting us further”. 

“Please refrain from contacting our clients”. 

 “Please remove all reference to us, our staff and our clients from your website and the public domain”. 

 “Please confirm your acceptance of the above and provide undertakings that you will cease and desist from all further contact with us and our clients., Please also confirm that you have removed all references as above and undertake not to make any more. We are willing to grant you 7 days for compliance”. 

 “If we receive the undertakings and confirmation of removal as requested above by close of business on 23rd April 2021, our next step will likely be to seek one or more Court orders to restrain your activities. We will also seek our costs for taking such action”.  

 This is the second time Shortlands have demanded that we do not contact their clients. We told them the first time that we don’t know their clients, but if they wanted to give us a list we would consider it.  They didn’t provide one.  We also noted they gave no valid reason for us to remove our articles.  We have given them the opportunity to identify any errors in our reporting, but we’ve received nothing from them.  It is therefore fair to assume that our report on Alastair Dobbie and his relationship with sales agents and his links to the sale and promotion of unlawful investment schemes was accurate.

INVESTOR ACTION

We’ve asked the co-ordinators to insist on Mr Dobbie declaring his current disciplinary status to them. We will not go into specifics at this point because we are seeking clarification of some issues.  We have given them 24 hours to provide the answers to these questions and others.  They are the self-appointed investor co-ordinators so they have a moral and ethical duty to be honest with the investors they have persuaded to sign up with them.

Mr Bruyniks claims to represent investors who do not want to pay any more money into this scam.  Alastair Dobbie allegedly represents investors who have paid £1,000 each for his services. OK, that seems clear. What hasn’t been clarified is what do the people who pay £1,000 get that those people who haven’t paid don’t get ? Why would anyone pay £1,000 if the person next to them is getting the same service for free ?

We have said many times that creditors should question Shortlands Law and Alastair Dobbie over their qualifications to represent investors in complex insolvency cases.  We see no evidence that Shortlands or Alastair Dobbie has any insolvency experience.  Investors should be asking the questions we raised above.  If they are not satisfied with the answers and feel they were misled they should ask for their money back and instruct a specialist insolvency law firm.  We can point investors in the direction of several specialist insolvency law firms, but a Google search will bring them up anyway.

If Shortlands’ clients are happy with the law firm they should at least obtain written assurance that should any deal it negotiates with Robin Forster be undone in the future, they are guaranteed a full refund.  If that assurance is not given it would suggest Shortlands are not confident in their consultant solicitor’s ability to achieve a proper deal which stands up in court.  It’s easy for a solicitor to get a deal with Robin Forster on paper because it suits both parties. Any deal, even one that ultimately doesn’t stand up in court, allows Alastair Dobbie to justify his fees. It also gives Robin Forster a stab at trying to remain involved so that he can earn more money too. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

Anyone who signed up with the ‘investor co-ordinators’ should state that they do not want their vote to be used to support anyone who was involved in selling or arranging deals in the Qualiacare scam.  We don’t believe investors knew they were signing up to that scenario and that they have been misled.  They should also request confirmation that everything they have been told by the investor co-ordinators is true and if it is subsequently found not to be true the investor co-ordinator accepts full responsibility for any losses the investor might incur from following their advice.  

They should also insist that their investor co-ordinator obtains answers from Shortlands Law Firm to the questions we asked above.  These are important questions which investor co-ordinators, if they truly represent the interests of victims of the scam, should have insisted Shortlands answer.  The co-ordinators must be transparent otherwise they are just part of a scam.  

Finally, investors should ask their co-ordinators to confirm that they will never be asked to amend, alter, cancel or surrender their leases.  The co-ordinators are carefully skirting around that issue in order to get people to hand their votes over to them.  It is noticeable that neither Alastair Dobbie nor the co-ordinators have provided a breakdown of how their proposal would affect each class of investor and what they would have to do, or give up, in return.

Any investor who is offered any deal put together by Shortlands, Alastair Dobbie or the investor co-ordinators should take independent legal advice before they sign up to it.  If the investor co-ordinators are opposed to ordinary investors taking legal advice on their lease positions it would be seen as a huge red flag. Giving up your vote or your entitlements without having taken independent legal advice would not be wise.

What a disaster for investors. We don’t like to see lawyers not being honest with investors. Alastair Dobbie needs to provide answers because his silence on his involvement is damaging any genuine investors who are trying to do the best they can to be fair to all investors.  We believe the people who invested £4.5m for thin air are being harshly treated by the current proposal and things need to be balanced out more favourably so that no creditor is disadvantaged.

We have had some Press interest relating to what is going on in Qualiacare.  We’ll see what develops.

Qualicare Deception.

Information on Scams

Information on Scams 226 160 SOS Team

We greatly appreciate the information on scams and scammers that we receive from people who take the time to complete the Contact Form.  We do not need to know the identity of the provider, but we do need a valid email address (even if it is a hotmail, gmail etc) because there will normally be follow-up questions.

For example, this week two people have contacted us with information, but have not given a valid email address.

The first relates to a person who we know well and who has altered his name slightly in the latest scam. Thank you to the informant who has given us some limited information, but we have nothing we can publish to warn the public. We would like you to contact us again and give us a valid email address so we can email you with a few questions about the latest scam.

The second involves a recent article and relates to information regarding two alleged investigations into an individual.  We need evidence to support these allegations because if we were to contact the organisations carrying out the alleged investigations they would refuse to comment. We need something like a copy of an email or a letter from those organisations or another way that we can verify that the investigations are genuinely taking place. We cannot publish articles on something as serious as someone being under investigation by regulatory bodies unless we have evidence to prove it.  We will not publish anything contained in the proof which may identify the source, but if we have the evidence we will be able to publish that the investigations are taking place. We have already written to the company under whose umbrella the alleged offender is working to ask them to comment on whether they are aware of any investigations into this person. Please use the Contact Form again and provide a valid email address. We will then contact you to ask you to send through any proof.  You may blank out any marks which might identify you because we are only interested in being able to prove that the allegations are true.

Anyone who wishes to provide information on scams but would prefer to remain anonymous should set up a hotmail or gmail account and use that on our Contact Form Page. We quite often have to email informants to gather a bit more information before we can publish an article.

 

TQ Property Law

TQ Property Law 400 300 SOS Team

We are interested in any investments in which TQ Property Law represented investors.   TQ has been associated with several collapsed investments.  There is a group legal claim in progress against the insurance company which provided the cover for TQ Property Law.  The company no longer exists, but that does not mean that claims cannot be made if there is evidence of professional negligence because the insurance cover may still be valid.  There may still be recovery options available to its clients.  Please use our Contact Form [LINK] if you would like further information.

Maxwell Alves

Maxwell Alves 400 300 SOS Team

We are interested in any investments which involved the law firm of Maxwell Alves.  This firm has been associated with several collapsed investments and, although now dissolved, we believe there may be recovery options available to its clients.  Two different law firms are currently running group actions on behalf of investors in different scams.  Please use our Contact Form [LINK] if you would like to get in touch.

Alastair Dobbie

Alastair Dobbie 300 300 SOS Team

Alastair Dobbie

Alastair Dobbie is a consultant solicitor to Shortlands Law Firm Ltd.  The ‘About Us’ page of the Shortlands website describes the service that Shortlands provides to its clients [LINK HERE].

Over the last 10 years, Shortlands has been instructed in over (10000) cases. Founded in 2004 by Principal Shabana Walayat, Shortlands is recognized for representing high net worth individuals in the UK and abroad, with a special focus on complex cases where children and wealth need to be protected. For people who lead busy lives, Shortlands helps you understand your grounds for divorce or separation and offer you solutions that best meet your needs, emotionally and financially…….
Since 2004 we have grown our team of expert lawyers, all of whom have extensive experience in working with some of the most complex divorce cases in the UK and abroad involving financial disputes and child care arrangements.

The page also shows the team members, including Alastair Dobbie.  He is the one without an image and with no information about him.  It is clear that Shortlands specialises in divorce and separations.  It is therefore surprising to find Shortlands offering advice on corporate insolvency and property law to victims of investment scams.

Alastair Dobbie has teamed up with a sales agent called Roberto Pancaldi to offer advice and assistance to victims of investment scams.  You can read a bit about their activities in relation to Qualiacare in our earlier article [LINK].  The Dobbie-Pancaldi team has persuaded investors in four scams to instruct them, but they have not told the truth to those investors and there has not been full disclosure of their involvement and status.

As a sales agent for the scams, Roberto Pancaldi has access to other sales agents and their client details.  He persuades sales agents to introduce their investors and then makes a sales pitch detailing why investors need the services of Alastair Dobbie.  The usual format is:

I am an investor in this project, just like you.  I’m facing the same kinds of losses that you are.  I’ve got a great lawyer who will look after your interests.  Unfortunately, you need to pay him now because time is pressing and you’ll be in trouble if you wait.

I’m going to establish ‘investor groups’ led by you guys.  All you have to do is send out whatever you are given, but send it out as if it has come from you because other investors are more likely to join up if the letter comes from another investor.  The communications will not be signed so please put your name to them.

Unfortunately, many investors pay up.  A Qualiacare investor told us he joined out of fear because the letter said he had no time and he needed to pay immediately if he wanted to be represented. More than 200 people were persuaded to join up in this manner.  The same is true of Carlauren investors who were misled into paying fees as quickly as possible.

However…. ROBERTO PANCALDI WAS NOT TELLING THE TRUTH.  He is not an investor in any of these scams.  He is not registered as a room owner in any of them and he has not paid for any room lease.

One St Camillus investor who has been recruited as “an investor co-ordinator” challenged us.  He was adamant that Roberto Pancaldi owns a hotel room at No.7 La Tour Hotel (a St Camillus hotel).  He told us that Pancaldi’s company owned the room.  We had to explain that the company which owns a room at that hotel is Marcnico Ltd.  The company director is Roberto Pancaldi, but all the shares are owned by two Italian investors.  Roberto Pancaldi doesn’t own the company and he never paid any money for the room.  The two Italian investors paid for their room and Roberto Pancaldi was paid commission by St Camillus for selling it to them.  Commission is normally between 10% – 15% paid to the bottom link in the commission chain, but typically works out around 30% when all the other links in the sales agent chain are taken into account.  There is evidence of such high commission rates being paid in hotel room and care home room scams.

Roberto Pancaldi operates his own sales company called SocInvest.  Here’s a link to the website [LINK HERE].  It’s still advertising hotel rooms for sale.  On the website he offers to establish UK Limited companies for investors and to be their company director.  He says it can be easier and have tax advantages for overseas investors.  That’s what has happened in Marcnico Ltd.

The important point is that Roberto Pancaldi has not lost any money to these scams.  He lies to investors to get them to sign up and he deceives innocent investors into acting as recruiters for the highly questionable ‘lease protection / legal representation’ service which we believe does not result in any greater recovery for investors.  Surely the point of any legal representation in an investment scam is that by paying the solicitor the client has the potential to recover more money.  If the client has no financial benefit why would they pay for, or need, the legal service ?  They would just be increasing their losses.

We recently wrote an article on St Camillus Investors [LINK HERE].  We described how Roberto Pancaldi organised a Zoom meeting attended by Alastair Dobbie and more than 30 investors.  The investors were asked to pay £580 per room so that Alastair Dobbie could give advice on the insolvency of the St Camillus companies.  A lot of investors paid up.  However, thanks to our article exposing this behaviour the demand for £580 from new investors was dropped.  Those who had paid did not receive a refund.

Qualiacare investors are being asked to pay more money towards “a fighting fund” although, with the Financial Conduct Authority already having intervened in the Qualia scam and taking action to protect investors, it’s not clear who Alastair Dobbie intends to fight !  If it’s the FCA I think investors should think twice before paying any more money.  Carlauren investors face similar requests to pay extra money into the pot.

In the St Camillus article we mentioned the company where Roberto Pancaldi is a nominee director (Marcnico Ltd – LINK HERE).  This company was incorporated so that the two Italian investors could buy a room in one of the Northern Powerhouse Developments properties.  This was one of the earliest room scams.  We mentioned the existence of a charge registered against the company [LINK HERE].  If the VIEW PDF link is selected it will show on page 3 that the charge was registered by B&M Law.  We did not think that was important at the time, but it is now.  Four years later the same two investors were sold a room at St Camillus No.7 La Tour hotel and they used their company Marcnico Ltd to make that purchase.

We know Roberto Pancaldi sold rooms for several scams including NPD, Carlauren, Qualiacare and St Camillus.  In every case those investors used B&M Law as their legal advisers to make the purchases.

ALASTAIR DOBBIE

What do we know about Alastair Dobbie ?  We know that he became a solicitor in 2014.  We know that he was originally a ‘consultant solicitor’ at Feltons Solicitors LLP and that his contract was cancelled.  Feltons refused to pay him on the grounds that his work was sub-standard and had to be redone by the owner of the firm.  They described it as being “of no value to the firm”.  A report on the Tribunal can be found via this link [LINK HERE].

We can get a very good idea of Alastair Dobbie’s employment history from his own LinkedIn page [LINK HERE].  Obviously, this page was written by Alastair Dobbie so you would expect the section titled ‘EXPERIENCE’ to be a full history.  He describes his time at Feltons.  He states he was there from October 2010 until September 2016.  He then describes taking up a position as consultant solicitor with Shortlands Law Firm in the same month he left Feltons, which is where he remains to this day.

Well, that’s very odd indeed because Alastair Dobbies’ LinkedIn profile doesn’t tie up with the employment status described on the Solicitors Regulation Authority websiteHere is the SRA entry [LINK HERE]. This shows that Alastair Dobbie is registered as a consultant solicitor with TWO law firms.  One of them is Shortlands Law Firm.  The other is B&M Law – the law firm which provided legal services to investors to enable them to buy rooms in the scam investments.  If the SRA is correct, which we believe it is, then Alastair Dobbie has chosen not to mention his role with B&M Law on his Linkedin profile. That’s not surprising because it would ring alarm bells with investors.

We thought it would be sensible to check the B&M Law website [LINK HERE].  There he is.  Same as the Shortlands page.  His name is listed as a team member but there is no image and no information.

So, just to recap.

1.  Alastair Dobbie is listed as a consultant solicitor to B&M Law.  This law firm acted for investors in NPD, Carlauren, Qualiacare and St Camillus, going as far back as 2015.

2.  It is alleged that these schemes were unregulated collective investment schemes and were therefore unlawful.  The FCA have intervened in Qualiacare and have made that allegation against the Qualia companies.  If proven, investors may have claims against the law firms which acted for them.  This would include B&M Law.  They may also have claims against individual solicitors and sales agents.

3.  Roberto Pancaldi has made statements to investors that he is a room owner and is facing large losses, yet he doesn’t own any rooms.  He introduces Alastair Dobbie to investors as a solicitor who can help them. 

4.  Alastair Dobbie has not declared his involvement with B&M Law, does not list it on his LinkedIn page and has not commented on Roberto Pancaldi’s claims to own rooms.  It’s fair to assume that Alastair Dobbie would know whether or not Roberto Pancaldi owned any rooms.  If he knew, should he have made it clear to investors that Roberto Pancaldi was not a genuine room owner ?  We think he should.

5.  Investors are told to hurry up and pay because time is against them.

6.  We don’t know if NPD investors have been asked to pay more, but we know that both Carlauren and Qualiacare investors have been asked to make further payments.

What does a sales agent do when the scams collapse and room sales are no longer possible ?  He looks for another money-making scheme.  We think Roberto Pancaldi has found one.

At the beginning of March we received a letter from Shortlands Law Firm.  We responded as follows:

We have investors who signed up with Alastair Dobbie in some of his actions out of fear. That was how one investor described it to us. They were told their leases were at risk when they were not.

We presume that is the purpose of the ‘co-ordinator’ letters i.e to suggest to investors that all will be lost unless they pay Shortlands and they must do so almost immediately. 

We regard Mr Dobbie’s involvement as simply a means to generate fees from investors who have already fallen victim to the unlawful sales efforts of some of your existing clients. Under FSMA it is unlawful to be involved in the formation, promotion, sale or operation of a UCIS.

We consider it to be a serious omission and breach of your duty to clients not to make them aware that the FCA allegations made in the Qualiacare case, if proven, would entitle clients to compensation from sales agents, some of whom are also your clients and who have the role of  ‘investor co-ordinators’ under the Pancaldi/Dobbie structure. That also applies in Carlauren, NPD and now St Camillus.

We believe you must make that clear to all your clients immediately. Please confirm that you will do so.

We did not receive a reply and we know that investors were not informed.  At that time we did not know of Alastair Dobbie’s involvement with B&M Law which makes our comments even more relevant.

A Qualiacare investor has confirmed that Alastair Dobbie’s advice to the investor group keeps changing.  He feels that Mr Dobbie is not competent to give advice on insolvency or property matters and has stated his intention to write to Shortlands de-instructing the company and demanding a full refund. We have some more questions which we are putting to Shortlands today.  We believe investors should also ask more questions of Alastair Dobbie and their ‘investor co-ordinators’.  Our questions to Shortlands are:

1.  Were you aware that Alastair Dobbie is a consultant solicitor with B&M Law ?

2.  Were you aware that B&M Law was involved in the sale of leases to investors in the Northern Powerhouse Developments, Carlauren, Qualiacare and St Camillus scams when you began approaching investors to offer legal services ?

3.  Are you aware of the SRA Warnings that law firms should not get involved in high-risk investments, including the sale of hotel rooms, and that law firms and lawyers who do get involved could be liable to compensate investors for their losses ?

4.  If the answer to any of the above is Yes, please can you explain the level of Mr Dobbie’s involvement at B&M Law, the duties he performed and why this was not communicated to the victims of scams before they instructed your law firm. Do you regard Alastair Dobbie as having a conflict of interest ?

5.  Has Alastair Dobbie or Shortlands notified the investor groups that legal advisers who were negligent in their advice to clients can be liable to compensate investors and that may include a law firm associated with Alastair Dobbie, and even Alastair Dobbie himself ?

6.  Does Alastair Dobbie and/or Shortlands have any financial arrangement with Roberto Pancaldi or any of his companies to pay him any commissions, introduction fees or any other compensation relating to the introduction of clients or to the provision of services related to investments ?  If so, why has this not been declared to investors who have made financial contributions for recovery action services ?  If such an arrangement exists and has not been declared to clients this would raise serious questions as to the honesty and integrity of the people involved.

7.  Are any parties paid any commission, introduction fee or other compensation and if so, which parties ?

8.  Is it acceptable for Alastair Dobbie to write letters to investors and not sign them ?  Are you aware of any occasions where he has done this ?  Investors who have been duped into becoming ‘investor co-ordinators’ are being asked to send out letters under their own name when those letters were not written by them.

9.  In light of the information in this article do you feel that Shortlands should now self-report to the SRA requesting them to investigate ?

We have noticed that any correspondence to Marcnico Ltd goes to Roberto Pancaldi, not the two shareholders.  We have also noticed that the email addresses for individual investors who bought through Socinvest have contact emails with the word ‘socinvest’ in them.  This would suggest that all communications to investors who bought through Roberto Pancaldi are going to him.  It is entirely possible that those investors may never be made aware of their legal positions in respect of compensation claims against the sales agent and the law firm they used.

Our advice to investors remains the same.  If an investor feels it necessary to take legal advice on insolvency matters they should consult a specialist insolvency lawyer who knows what they are doing.  It makes much more sense.

Qualiacare investors have paid £1,000 each for the services of Alastair Dobbie.  Roberto Pancaldi has told them that there are at least 230 investors in the group.  That’s a nice payday.  We have a feeling that a lot of investors will want answers.

We still find it very surprising that Shortlands Law Firm would have allowed its name to be used in such a way if it had been in possession of the full facts.  Investment scams are very far removed from Family Law, a field in which Shortlands has very good reputation.

We know the names of all the “investor co-ordinators” but will not publish them.  It is unclear as to which ones are genuine investors and which have been strategically inserted.  If any investor feels there was not full disclosure by Alastair Dobbie and that they were misled into becoming clients of Shortlands, they should ask for their money back.

Legal actions are already underway for investors in other property-related scams who used either Gordon Brown Law Firm [LINK] or Maxwell Alves Solicitors [LINK] or TQ Property Law [LINK].  These companies were heavily involved in offering legal services to investors in hotel room and care home room scams.

To view a more recent article on Alastair Dobbie and his involvement in Qualiacare please click here [LINK].

To view a recent update on the involvement of Alastair Dobbie and Shortlands Law in several scam investments please click here [LINK].

 

Scam Alert

The Star Hotel Great Yarmouth

The Star Hotel Great Yarmouth 300 233 SOS Team

The Star Hotel Great Yarmouth.

We believe the sale of hotel rooms at The Star Hotel was disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. There is evidence to suggest that at least eight rooms have been sold and that the owner is planning to relaunch the room sales operation once the hotel is re-opened.  None of the room leases taken out by investors have been registered against the title at the Land Registry.

The trading operation of The Star Hotel Great Yarmouth is unaffected. In other words, if any guest wants to stay there they can.  It does not matter to a guest who owns the room because all rooms are managed by the hotel management company.

This article is solely to warn any potential investor who receives a promotion aimed at enticing them to invest in a room at this hotel to think again. Take independent legal advice. Do not use the law firm recommended by the company.

Our advice in every hotel room scheme is  –  Book a hotel room. DON’T BUY A HOTEL ROOM.

To view a more recent article on Merydion Hotels click here [LINK]

 

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