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Safe or Scam Support

Shepherd Cox Hotels (Stokesley) Ltd

Shepherd Cox Hotels (Stokesley) Ltd 400 267 Safe or Scam Support

Shepherd Cox Hotels (Stokesley) Ltd

On 18th September 2020, Shepherd Cox Hotels (Stokesley) Ltd was placed into administration.  This company owns The Leven Hotel and is the fifteenth company involving Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile to go into administration.  We expect more to follow as the administrators continue their investigations into the missing money.

Shepherd Cox Hotels (Cheltenham) Ltd has also been placed into administration.  At the beginning of the year there was no doubt this company owned the Charlton Kings Hotel, but once administration proceedings started the court was told that the company had sold the hotel to a BVI company called Universal Goldstar in March.  Creditors regard this as a suspicious transaction and have asked the administrator to investigate.  There have been suggestions that Universal Goldstar did not pay any money into the company’s bank account when the freehold was transferred.  An administrator has powers to undo any arrangement which may have been transacted under-value.

One of our clients who gave an £800,000 loan to Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile (as joint borrowers) has been forced to restart legal action against both of them after they defaulted on a revised loan repayment schedule.

Over the past few weeks we have been contacted by a lot of individual lenders who have also lent money to the Shepherd Cox directors and have not been paid.

We have recently started working with a large number of Shepherd Cox Hotels (Lymm) Ltd investors to assist them in acquiring the lease at their hotel.  One investor has already been through the courts to obtain a debt judgement against the company and has instructed a solicitor to enforce the judgement.

Finally, a number of Shepherd Cox companies have been trying to place assets beyond the reach of creditors.  We are following this closely on behalf of our investor group.

Here’s an interesting development.  Shepherd Cox, Aston Darby and serial scammer Simon Whittley-Ryan have been communicating with each other.  More on Mr Whittley-Ryan and the transfer of £300,000 of Win River Developments Ltd investor money to a Romanian money mule later this week.  The last time we reported on Romanian involvement in a scam was back in March when a Romanian was involved in the Westway Holdings scam.  See the article here.

To view our previous article on Shepherd Cox click here

To view a more recent article on Shepherd Cox please click here.

 

Shepherd Cox Ltd in Administration

Shepherd Cox Ltd in Administration 400 267 Safe or Scam Support

Shepherd Cox Ltd in Administration

Following a hearing on 1st September 2020, Shepherd Cox Ltd was finally placed into administration by the court.

Shepherd Cox Ltd is one of the most important Shepherd Cox companies in the group.  It was the company which marketed and promoted the sale of hotel rooms to investors.  It is also believed to be one of the companies which is likely to have diverted investors’ money into its bank accounts for dispersal to other schemes.

That theory appears to be supported by the fact that the company directors, Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile, preferred a liquidation over an administration.  They appointed Mr Taylor of Begbies Traynor to liquidate the company.  Mr Taylor has been appointed by these directors before in 2015.  They used his services to force two Hotel Options companies into administration and to buy the freeholds to the hotels from the administration for £20,000 and £60,000.  This was despite investors making an offer to buy those freeholds in order to salvage something from their investments.  The investors were surprised to find that the freeholds had been sold very quickly to the same people who had not only appointed the administrator, but who had actually sold them the rooms in the first place !  Needless to say Shepherd Cox defaulted on their promises to investors.

The attempted liquidation of Shepherd Cox Ltd in July was withdrawn after they realised there was a Court Order preventing any of the Shepherd Cox companies being dissolved.  Shepherd Cox Ltd had tried to persuade the court that it was owed millions of pounds, but that the company had little chance of recovering that money from the people/companies they had given it to.  They were therefore prepared to write it off.

It will now be very interesting to learn exactly who they had given the money to.  What’s the betting it will include other companies linked to the directors, or paid direct to themselves, or to friends and family ?    It’s almost always the case that when directors try to write off large debts it is because some of the debts are owed by themselves and/or friends and/or family members.

Several other companies linked to the directors of Shepherd Cox Ltd were also placed into administration.  One of those was a residential property development company owned by Mr Bramzell and Mr Carlile  –  D and B Investment Properties Ltd.  The fact that this was even in court in the first place suggests that this residential development company had been given money from one or more of the original six hotel companies and hadn’t paid it back.  It’s shocking to think that investors had been denied their rental payments for two years because the money that could have paid them was being used by another Bramzell/Carlile company just to enrich themselves.

Another company placed into administration was Shepherd Cox Hotels (Croft On Tees) Ltd.  This company is now just a shell company because it originally owned the tenancy on The Croft Hotel, but is no longer associated with that hotel.  The owner of The Croft Hotel contacted us to request that we notify the public that the hotel has not been involved with Shepherd Cox for a long time.  This is what he had to say:

“In December 2017 (after being introduced to Shepherd Cox by Christies) I leased the hotel to them (big mistake!!).  After huge problems I took the hotel back from them in June 2019”.

The Croft Hotel is unaffected by the actions being taken against the Shepherd Cox companies and we wish the owner every success.  Here is a link to The Croft Hotel website.  It looks a lovely place.

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

 

Scam Alert

Follow-On-Frauds 2

Follow-On-Frauds 2 300 233 Safe or Scam Support

Follow-On-Frauds 2

Here is a list of the latest follow-on-frauds which have been reported to us.

A follow-on-fraud is when a victim of a scam is contacted by a company claiming it either has a buyer for their investment, or is holding a large sum of money for the victim and all they have to do is pay some form of local tax, or is informing the victim that their investment has been exchanged for shares, or states that they are working with a liquidator/administrator, or is involved in ‘a capital exchange program’, or any number of weird and wacky fabricated stories.  The bottom line is that in every case the follow-on-fraudster will require the victim to pay upfront in order to receive a much larger sum.  Every one of them will be a scam.

We are regularly contacted by people who have fallen victim to these follow-on-frauds.  It is very easy to believe these scammers because their marketing material can be very good and they work off well-rehearsed sales scripts. We know of people who have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to follow-on-fraudsters so it is big business for organised groups of criminals. It is our belief that many of the follow-on-frauds are co-ordinated by a small group of criminals.

We will write a brief report on as many of them as we can in the coming days, but investors must not pay any money to any of the companies below.

1.  Anderson Recovery Services

2.  Andover Financial Investment

3.  Fuda Capital

4.  Regent Capital Holdings

5.  Escrow Account Ltd

6.  KWT Merger Corp

7.  China Citic Bank International

8.  Noblemare Financial Management

9.  Chartered Trading Standards Institute

Follow-on-Frauds occur when the person who founded the scam investment or one of his/her salespeople sells the list of investors as a last-gasp effort to bring in some more money.  Quite a few of the scam investments can be linked back to the same few people who are operating behind the scenes.

 

Scam Alert

How To Deal With Fraudsters

How To Deal With Fraudsters 300 233 Safe or Scam Support

How to deal with fraudsters.

We are regularly contacted by people who are being approached by follow-on-fraudsters promising to recover their money.

We spend a lot of time emailing investors advising them not to pay any money to these people, but we recently received an email from someone who had responded to an approach by an organisation called UCIS Advice Point promising to put her in contact with a law firm.  You can read our previous articles about UCIS Advice Point here.  We were concerned that Neil Bromage may have been using UCIS Advice Point as a front for passing on investor details to scammers and other investment companies with which he or his family were associated.

This lady, who won’t mind us saying that she is mature in years and quite forthright, certainly felt that this is exactly what had happened to her.  This was her email to Neil Bromage of UCIS Advice Point:

Since giving you my details, I have received two phone calls about “my carbon credit investments”, the latest being today.

 I’m glad to say that I never invested in such scams and would ask you to refrain from passing on my details to any investment schemes whatsoever since anyone ringing me will just be wasting their time and will get short shrift from me.

 There’s no way I’m going to listen to any spiel given me by a cold caller and I will just tell them to ‘f …. off’ and put the phone down as I have done with these, so kindly strike me off your “sucker’s list”.

For years I have not received any calls about scam investments as I was no longer on a “sucker’s list” after dispatching any calls I did get in the above manner, so I know it’s you who’s behind my getting two such calls in a matter of days.

Just leave off and strike me off the list would you please. I’m very angry!!

This lady’s advice of just telling cold-calling follow-on-fraudsters to “f…. off” has our full support.  If you would like to know how to deal with fraudsters you might consider taking a leaf out of this lady’s book.  It appears to have been quite effective for a number of years.

We would be very interested to know which law firm and which lawyer was working with Neil Bromage because UCIS Advice Point went to great lengths to hide the firm’s identity.  If anyone has any evidence in that respect please can they let us know.

 

Shepherd Cox Ltd

Shepherd Cox Ltd 400 267 Safe or Scam Support

Shepherd Cox Ltd

Many people have contacted us asking for an update on Shepherd Cox Ltd and to comment on the misinformation being spread by a small group of people so here it is.

First a brief summary of the facts.

1. The administration applications for the first six hotels (Travelodge Sedgefield, The Grand Hartlepool, The Jersey Arms Bicester, The George Hotel Darlington, The Sandpiper Hotel Chesterfield and the Comfort Inn Manchester North) were filed by ten Safe Or Scam clients earlier this year.  An additional thirty six creditors lent their support to the applications.

2. Since these hotels were placed into administration another three Shepherd Cox hotels have followed (Allerton Court, Hallgarth Manor and The New Hobbit).  These three were placed into administration by Luqa Ltd which has been a long-term supporter of Lee Bramzell and has profited from some of the investor hotels.  We expect more hotels to go into administration in the next few weeks as the Administrator seeks to recover money which is owed to the six hotel companies.

3. It has been estimated that around £10m of investors’ money is currently unaccounted for.

4. Almost every hotel in the Shepherd Cox group was loss-making.  It has been alleged that it was only through creative accounting practices and defaulting on guaranteed rental-payments to investors in Asia that the group was able to maintain the illusion of being solvent.

5. Investors introduced by some sales agents received favourable treatment at the expense of long-standing Asian investors.  That preferential arrangement is one that we would like the Administrator to raise with the company directors.

6. Nine rooms at The Grand Hotel in Hartlepool, which were sold to investors in 2016, do not exist.  Shepherd Cox’s explanation is that the solicitor held back some money with the inference being that Shepherd Cox did not receive enough money to fit-out the rooms.  The truth is that the solicitor held back only £2,500 out of every £60,000 paid.  Other rooms sold to investors in this hotel still have no bathrooms and cannot be let out to paying guests.

7. Shepherd Cox sold three bedrooms at the Jersey Arms to investors, despite twice being refused planning permission for those rooms to be used as hotel bedrooms.  Those rooms are not guest bedrooms and still do not have planning permission.

8. Shepherd Cox sold bedrooms at the Sandpiper Hotel which cannot be used as guest bedrooms because they have no bathrooms and there is no space to construct bathrooms.

9. Shepherd Cox sold 33 bedrooms at The George Hotel in Darlington, but only 28 bedrooms are registered at the Land Registry.  If investors at The George would like to contact us we can advise them if their rooms are registered.  They can then do something about it.  It does not affect their rights under the administration because they paid their money and will be recognised as creditors.  We have some clients who have been affected by this.

10. The Administrator informed investors that the Shepherd Cox directors paid themselves large and unjust dividends which must be paid back to the companies.

So now to recent events.

A Directions Hearing was held this week relating to seven additional companies which the Administrator was applying to have placed into administration.  We would normally say “seven Shepherd Cox companies”, but that is not strictly true.  One of the companies was D&B Investment Property Ltd.  It is nothing to do with Shepherd Cox hotels, except for the fact that the company is owned by the two Shepherd Cox directors, Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile.  This company is their own private property development company.  What that means is that they transferred money out of at least one of the hotel companies to finance their own private property deals.  That might explain why the hotel companies did not have enough cash to pay the guaranteed rentals.

A Directions Hearing is where both sides agree the framework with the Judge to enable them to present their cases over the next few weeks leading up to the full hearing.  It is not a hearing where judgement on administration can be made unless both sides agree.

However, events took an unexpected turn.  The Judge was obviously very concerned about the situation involving one of the companies, Shepherd Cox Ltd.  Shepherd Cox Ltd is the oldest Shepherd Cox company.  It was the sales agent for the very first hotels which were owned by Hotel Options.  It sold rooms at the Lymm and Knutsford hotels in 2014 and then went on to sell rooms in its own Shepherd Cox hotels at Sedgefield and Hartlepool in 2015, followed by all the other hotels in 2016 – 2018.  This is a very important company in the spider’s web of Shepherd Cox companies.  It sits at the very centre.  We believe it is likely to be the company which received a lot of the missing investor money, potentially including money from Lymm and Knutsford way back in 2014.  That is one of the reasons why it was important that it be placed into administration so that an investigation can take place.

We have been told that the argument the Shepherd Cox directors were putting forward in defending the company against the administration application was that an administration was an inappropriate way to deal with the company.  They did not want the company to be kept alive by an administration.  They were asking the court to rule that it should go straight to liquidation and be dissolved.  It is extremely rare for company directors to ask a court NOT to allow an administrator to try to save something from the company for the benefit of creditors.

The Judge clearly did not like this and took the decision to remove Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile from positions of control in Shepherd Cox Ltd.  He ordered that an Interim Manager be appointed to take over the running of Shepherd Cox Ltd until the full hearing.  The Judge decided that the interim Manager should be the Administrator of the six Shepherd Cox companies.

Shepherd Cox Ltd is not in administration.  It is being run by an administrator as Interim Manager until the full hearing.  We have been told that the Judge also made it clear that he was granting the Interim Manager all the powers of an administrator.  Hats off to the Judge !

Investors can make their own assessment, but it seems to us that the Judge could smell a cover-up and took steps to prevent it.  The new Interim Manager will have full access to the Shepherd Cox Ltd bank accounts so it is another step forward for investors in finding out where the money went and potentially recovering some of it.

Now to the sales agents and their misinformation campaign.  We have been asked a lot of questions by investors who have been approached by the sales agents and one or two investors who are working with them.  The campaign is being led by Brett Allegre-Wood of Gladfish Property Investment and includes the Buy Association and Dirk Laeremans who was the Shepherd Cox Sales Manager for the Far East.  That has not gone down well with a lot of our investors.  Anyone who is seen to be working with Dirk Laeremans is viewed with deep suspicion by Shepherd Cox investors in Asia. They remember him as one of the people who was trying to persuade them to swap leases for shares.  Until last month he was still showing on LinkedIn as the Head of Sales at Shepherd Cox Ltd, but that page has now been removed.

Investors are being led down the sidewalk and into the orange grove by one investor who is telling them they can buy the hotels for £1.  We’ll call this team of sales agents and one or two investors “the Manipulators”.  Here are the questions we have received and the answers.

1. Is SOS charging an upfront fee to join the legal action that your clients have established ?

We were charging £100 until recently to cover admin, but even that has been waived now.

2. If I join your client’s legal action am I part of the SOS Group ?

NO.  Joining our group is by mutual consent. There are some disruptors who we will not accept.  We will assist the legal action because that is what has been agreed, but there are other avenues we are pursuing exclusively on behalf of our group which do not involve the legal action.  We will only accept people into the SOS group who we are happy working with. 

3. Will SOS levy a fee on what I recover from the administration ?

NO.  We have written to our group of investors telling them that we do not believe they will get much back from the administration because the market value of the hotels is not great and we will not charge them any fee.

4.  Will SOS levy a fee on any sums recovered on third party legal actions ?

NO.

5.  The Manipulators have said that SOS is advocating that we give up our leases.  Is that correct ?

NO.  That is a lie. The decision whether or not to surrender a lease is a personal decision for investors. Ultimately, we believe all investors will have to give up their leases, either voluntarily or through a court process at some point.  We advise investors to take legal advice on their lease position because it is not as clear cut as they are being led to believe by the Manipulators.  

6.  Do you think we could buy the freeholds for £1 like the Manipulators have suggested ?

NO.  This is real life. There will be better offers on the hotels even with all leases in place.

7.  The Manipulators are saying the leases put us in a strong position.  Do you agree ?

NO.  There is possibly a temporary improved position in the short term if investors wanted to buy the hotels. They could possibly buy them at a discount, but they would still have to pay more than they are prepared to pay.  Also, a proposal by an investor group would have to deal with some investors who do not want to join and there has been no information on how they would treat those investors.  We recommend investors take legal advice because the leases carry financial liabilities.  Our group understands the lease position and is acting accordingly.

8.  The Manipulators want us to oppose the Administrator.  Is this wise ?

Not usually, but investors are free to do what they want.  Administrators and lawyers are entitled to charge for their time which will be paid out of the company assets.  If investors are happy for extra costs to be incurred then that is their choice.  Our group will not be fighting the Administrator.  It was not an administrator who put investors into this mess.  It was Shepherd Cox and the sales agents.  Investors should take legal advice and not listen to the Manipulators because they have their own agenda.

9.  The Manipulators are saying they have taken legal advice, but have not shown us anything.  Are they telling the truth ?

Anyone can say “I spoke to a solicitor and he said….”  Ask to see a copy of the written legal advice.  Based on what investors are telling us, some of the statements are so wrong that we do not believe a competent solicitor would have given that advice.  So the answer is that we don’t believe they have taken legal advice. 

10.  The Manipulators say that the Administrator will only allow my investment capital to be added as a debt if I give up my lease.  Are they correct ?

NO.  It’s a lie. The first Administrator’s Report includes a list of creditor rental arrears provided by Lee Bramzell of Shepherd Cox.  When the Administrator submits his assessment it will include the buy-back + the rental arrears.  The lease position of an investor is irrelevant as to whether a debt is owed or not so it does not matter if the lease is given up or retained.  If in doubt, investors should drop a line to the administrator.  Do not believe what the Manipulators are telling you.

11.  The Manipulators say it is not worth me taking legal action because it is better for me to take over the hotel with other investors.  Are they correct ?

NO.  Investors can do both if they wish. One does not affect the other.  If investors want to take over a hotel and also make a claim for the full loss of their investment they can do so.  The lawyer will explain the reasoning behind that.  The Manipulators are keen to persuade investors not to join the legal action.

12.  The Manipulators say the law firm will not be able to calculate my losses for the legal action claim because the administration is still ongoing and therefore I should not bother.  Are they correct ?

NO.  It’s a lie.  There is an established process.  The law firm will advise. 

13.  The Manipulators are saying it is not worth taking legal action because it could take years and we may not win.  Are they correct ?

It is a legal action and they can take a long time.  It will take as long as it takes because nobody knows.  It may settle quickly or it may drag on, but from where we sit we would ask investors what have you got to lose ?  Investors are not having to pay for it.  Law firms only take on no-win no-fee cases where they are confident of a win.  

14.  Will the intended opponents have enough insurance cover to pay out the full claim ?

The law firm will not take on a claim unless it is confident the opponent has the resources to settle it.  The law firm is on a no-win no-fee arrangement so it wants to be paid at the end of it.  Investors can be pretty sure this is the first thing their lawyer will check !

15.  Do you genuinely think this was a scam or just poor management by Shepherd Cox ?

We genuinely think this was a scam from the start.  We are confident this will be proven in the future as the investigations delve deeper into the companies and conduct of the directors.

16.  Do you think the agents knew it was a scam ?

We don’t know, but from what we have seen it was being marketed as a low-risk investment which was clearly untrue.  If the agents were a party to the sale of these rooms they have some liability to compensate investors whether they were a knowing accomplice or not. 

Three key things to remember:

The sales agents and Shepherd Cox employees have a vested interest in misleading investors and preventing them from taking legal action.

If someone says “a lawyer told me….” ask to see the lawyer’s opinion in writing.  If they can’t show it then it probably didn’t happen and investors are being manipulated.

If investors are offered a no-win no-fee full legal action by any law firm which includes taking the claim all the way through the UK courts they should seriously consider it.  In our opinion 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.

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

To view a more recent article on Shepherd Cox please click here.

 

Shepherd Cox Webinar

Shepherd Cox Webinar 500 333 Safe or Scam Support

Shepherd Cox Webinar

Earlier this week room investors were invited to a Shepherd Cox webinar organised by the administrator of six Shepherd Cox companies.

Investors were informed that:

a) none of the Shepherd Cox companies have ever made a profit;

b) a large number of investor payments were never sent to their respective Shepherd Cox hotel companies;

c) those payments which were sent to the appropriate Shepherd Cox companies were transferred out to other group companies in which investors had no interest;

d) the administrator is seeking to clawback payments made to other Shepherd Cox companies and payments made to Shepherd Cox directors; and

e) investors will not recover their investment capital from the administrations because the hotel values are a fraction of what investors paid for them.

We have published below the definition of a Ponzi Scheme from the investopedia.com website:

What Is a Ponzi Scheme?

A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investing scam promising high rates of return with little risk to investors. The Ponzi scheme generates returns for early investors by acquiring new investors. This is similar to a pyramid scheme in that both are based on using new investors’ funds to pay the earlier backers.

Both Ponzi schemes and pyramid schemes eventually bottom out when the flood of new investors dries up and there isn’t enough money to go around. At that point, the schemes unravel. 

Investors on the Shepherd Cox webinar were also shown a video describing the state of some of the rooms in the hotels.  All of the rooms were sold to investors as guest en-suite bedrooms, but a significant number were derelict at the time and remain derelict today.  Readers may remember that we first drew attention to this scam and that Keystone Law, representing Lee Bramzell, Nick Carlile and the six hotels before administration, tried to persuade us that investors were fully aware of what they had bought.  That was a lie.  This is the exact wording from the Keystone letter to us of 22nd May 2020:

“We are instructed that the investors of rooms 100, 103A, 105, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 212A, 222A and 321A in the Best Western, Grand Hotel, Hartlepool were made aware of the fact that these rooms required works. Accordingly, there was a retention of the purchase price held back by their solicitors when the rooms were purchased. We are instructed that these rooms do exist within the hotel. We are further instructed that the law firm that acted for the investors on the room sales has since gone into administration and so we cannot say what has happened to the funds retained on behalf of those investors.”

Investors view this differently and say they were never told that the rooms were derelict.  The sales brochures and contracts don’t mention that any rooms are in need of substantial work.  Plans we have obtained show that several of these ghost rooms were to be formed by partitioning existing bedrooms e.g room 212 would be split to become room 212 and 212A.  But… room 212 had already been sold to an investor.  Shepherd Cox would have no right to split room 212 without the leaseholder’s permission.  No permission from that investor had been sought.  We don’t believe there is a single investor who would purchase a room and then later agree to cut it in half so that one half could be sold to somebody else with the money going to Shepherd Cox.

All rooms were bought by investors in 2016.  We’ve provided some images below taken in June 2020 and I think it is fair to say that they still appear to “require works”.

We now know the amount withheld by the investors’ solicitor was £2,500 per room for snagging purposes because investors received an unexpected payment of between £1,500 and £2,000 into their bank accounts in 2019 without any explanation.  It now appears this was their snagging money being returned to them by the law firm just before it closed down.  Clearly the law firm didn’t want to tell clients that Shepherd Cox had misappropriated more than 95% of their money, so it just quietly repaid the small percentage without a word.  We estimate Shepherd Cox received around £600,000 for the ghost rooms and it was made clear in the Shepherd Cox webinar that they did absolutely nothing to turn those rooms into en-suite bedrooms for guests..

We were also aware that 23 bedroom leases had been sold at The Jersey Arms hotel in Bicester and we informed the administrator. We had to keep that quiet until it had been checked out because the Jersey Arms is registered as a 20-bed hotel, not a 23-bed hotel.  Those rooms were shown to Jersey Arms investors on the Shepherd Cox webinar.

We checked the council planning records for The Jersey Arms hotel and found a pre-planning enquiry had been submitted by Shepherd Cox Hotels (Bicester) Ltd in 2017.  It was for the conversion of three existing storage outbuildings into hotel bedrooms.  The company was informed that planning permission would be refused if a formal planning application was made.  Clearly that did not bother Lee Bramzell and Nick Carlile because their company sold the three rooms anyway and paid the guaranteed rental incomes to investors (only the UK-based investors and the investors introduced by their mate Brett Alegre-Wood. They didn’t pay the overseas investors).  They paid the rentals so that the three room investors would think that they owned genuine guest en-suite bedrooms.  The council records show that no formal planning application was ever submitted. Here are a couple of images of those rooms.

The Shepherd Cox webinar video will be available shortly and we will upload to this article next week.  We have left a space for it HERE.

Gladfish Property Investment Ltd is sticking to its story that there was nothing wrong with Shepherd Cox and that it was just a cashflow issue.  It is continuing to mislead its investors.  We hear that Gladfish is telling investors that the administrator is not on their side and that they should throw their lot in with Lee Bramzell who is willing to offer them shares in a new company.  However, a condition of the deal is that investors have to agree not to prosecute Gladfish.

Any share swap involving Shepherd Cox will end in disaster.  Just ask the Shepherd Cox leaseholders at Hallgarth Manor who swapped their leases for shares in 2018.  The company was put into administration last week by the long-term Shepherd Cox supporter, Luqa Ltd.  Those investors have been left with NOTHING.  As shareholders they come behind lenders AND creditors.  We believe it was a put-up job arranged between the Shepherd Cox directors and Luqa Ltd.  As soon as the leases were given up in 2018, Luqa registered a charge over the hotel property. It could not do that with the leases in place.

We now represent some Hallgarth Manor investors and we are taking action over the way they were persuaded to give up leases for shares. The administrator of the six Shepherd Cox companies had applied to put the Hallgarth Manor hotel and the Allerton Court hotel companies into administration so that he could trace where investors’ money had gone, but Luqa jumped in and we have been informed by one of our clients that Luqa has declined to work with the administrator to provide information.  Luqa Ltd has appointed Tony Murphy of Harrisons www.harrisons.uk.com as its administrator.  We will be watching this with interest.

Elliott Shaun Webster, the owner of Luqa Ltd, has been a key player in this web of unlawful investment schemes.  He was a director of the top Shepherd Cox company, SHEPHERD COX HOTELS (HOLDINGS) LTD, for almost two years and he supported unlawful investment schemes at two of the six hotels in administration . His administrator has appointed Lee Bramzell’s two new companies to manage the hotels.  I’ll bet the staff are pleased about that.

Festival Hotels (Bath) has changed its name to FESTIVAL HOTELS (DURHAM) LTD. Festival Hotels (Bournemouth) Ltd has changed its name to FESTIVAL HOTELS (NORTHALLERTON) LTD.  It looks like they’re putting the band back together !

Interestingly, Nick Carlile is not yet involved in those companies, but he is a joint director alongside Lee Bramzell in FESTIVAL LOAN FINANCE LTD.  Perhaps this company could lend £16m+ to Shepherd Cox so that it can pay back all the investors.

Elliott Shaun Webster has also been busy.  He has formed a new company called QMEAD PORTFOLIO LTD with his father.  It appears that their business will be “buying and selling of own real estate”.  We wonder which company will buy the hotels off the administrator so that he can liquidate the two Shepherd Cox companies and not bother to investigate.

Not so fast – we’ll be writing to Mr Murphy because we believe he has a responsibility to submit a Suspicious Activity Report to the National Crime Agency over the funds which were paid into Shepherd Cox Hotels (Durham) Ltd by investors.  The scheme was unlawful and our clients require a full investigation.  We believe the hotel asset is subject to POCA (the Proceeds of Crime Act).

So what’s next ?  Well, there are still some other Shepherd Cox companies working their ways through the administration process and we have submitted a claim to Shepherd Cox Hotels (Lymm) Ltd on behalf of a client.  Over the past few years he should have received more than £16,000 in rental payments (he was sold a hotel room at the Ibis Hotel in Lymm by Shepherd Cox Ltd in 2014). He paid £90,000 for the room.  He has received less than £3,000 of the £16,000 debt and he is not the only one.  Every investor is owed a similar amount.  Shepherd Cox won’t pay.  Mr Brett Alegre-Wood of Gladfish will no doubt view the years of underpayment as another simple “cashflow issue”.

We’re preparing articles on the following subjects related to the Shepherd Cox scheme:

The role of Luqa Ltd and Elliott Webster  /  The advice given by Gladfish Property Investment Ltd  /  The role of Amicus Tax  /  The role of Bishop & Sewell   /  The Entrepreneur Visa Scheme  /  Universal Goldstar.

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

 

Scam Alert

Redwood Capital (Europe) Scam

Redwood Capital (Europe) Scam 300 233 Safe or Scam Support

Redwood Capital (Europe) Scam.

Investors who have lost money in a range of scams such as binary options, unregulated bonds etc are being approached by Redwood Capital (Europe) Ltd in a follow-on-fraud scam. The firm has investor details from the previous scams and has been calling and emailing investors.

We have copied one of the documents received by an investor below (investor details removed). This is quite a professional fraud because a lot of effort has gone into the branding and the documents. It is easy to see why ordinary members of the public fall for some of the follow-on-frauds.

Redwood Capital Europe Ltd_Scam_Investor Details Removed

The Redwood Capital (Europe) Scam uses the domain name of redwoodcapfinance.com which was purchased on 27th February 2020. They have cloned the details of a genuine company by the same name. The documents are signed by someone pretending to be the director of the genuine company. As is usual with follow-on-frauds the company registration number and the registered office address match the details of the genuine company. These people go to great lengths to ensure that they appear genuine, but they are not.  We note that the website has been taken down which suggests that the Police or the website hosting company may have intervened.

This is not the first time that the genuine Redwood firm has been targeted.  Here is a report from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority in 2015 which shows that this scam was doing the rounds five years ago when the same company with registration number 03899931 was cloned by scammers in 2015.  It goes to show that follow-on-frauds are not new and the same people are perpetrating them year after year.

If you have paid money to a bank account given to you by Redwood Capital (Europe) you should report it to your policing authority.

 

Justice

Shepherd Cox Companies

Shepherd Cox Companies 300 200 Safe or Scam Support

Shepherd Cox Companies

Two more Shepherd Cox companies have been placed into administration.  Those companies are Shepherd Cox Hotels (Durham) Ltd, the owner of Hallgarth Manor House Hotel, and Shepherd Cox Hotels (North Allerton) Ltd, the owner of Allerton Court Hotel.

The administrator acting for the six Shepherd Cox hotels which are already in administration issued demands to these two companies requiring them to return money transferred to them by one or more of the six companies.

Those following the Shepherd Cox story will know that ordinary investors paid around £16 million to buy rooms in the six hotels which Shepherd Cox had purchased for only £6.5m and a lot of money has gone missing.

The two companies did not return the money so the administrator filed applications with the court to have them placed into administration.  The hearing was scheduled to take place on Monday 6th July.

Those applications were prevented from being heard by Luqa Ltd, a company domiciled in Malta and owned by Elliott Shaun Webster who was a former director of Shepherd Cox Hotels (Holdings) Ltd from June 2017 to March 2019 (see Companies House entries relating to Elliott Shaun Webster HERE and HERE).

Shepherd Cox Hotels (Holdings) Ltd is the top company in the entire Shepherd Cox group structure.  This is the company which co-ordinated the money transfers between the various Shepherd Cox companies.  This makes Elliott Shaun Webster more than just an arms’ length lender in our book.  It makes him a party to the scheme.

On Friday 3rd July, Luqa Ltd jumped in and filed its own administration application over the two companies (which it was entitled to do having a first charge over their assets).  Those applications were granted thereby causing the applications backed by investors to fall away.  It needn’t have done that because it could have allowed the hearing on the Monday to go ahead.  Luqa’s loan was protected so it could not lose out financially.  We regard the Luqa intervention as a hostile act against investors and in support of its friends in Shepherd Cox.

Luqa Ltd has been involved in many of the Shepherd Cox schemes since the early days.  It lent the initial capital to several Shepherd Cox companies, including some which went on to sell bedrooms to investors (The Sandpiper Hotel in Chesterfield and the Comfort Inn in Manchester North).

Luqa Ltd has chosen to appoint its own administrator and not to appoint the administrator dealing with the other Shepherd Cox companies.  Why would Luqa jump in to prevent the administrator dealing with six other Shepherd Cox companies from gaining access to the bank accounts and internal company records of these two companies ?  Is Elliott Shaun Webster a friend or foe of investors ?  It’s looking very much that Luqa Ltd is much more of a friend to Shepherd Cox than it is to ordinary investors.  This makes us wonder if there are transactions inside those companies that some people would not like to be brought out into the open.

Interestingly, there has been a lot of focus on the original six hotels but not so much on Hallgarth Manor Hotel owned by Shepherd Cox Hotels (Durham) Ltd.  Bedrooms were sold in that hotel too.  They slipped under the radar because Shepherd Cox “bought out” those investors and cancelled their room leases.  We have put inverted commas around the term “bought out” because they didn’t actually give investors the money they had paid for their rooms.  They made a small payment as a sweetener to encourage the deal, but they lied to investors telling them what a successful group Shepherd Cox was and that room owners would be far better off SWAPPING their room leases for shares in Shepherd Cox Hotels (Durham) Ltd.  The majority of investors agreed to swap, but a few did not.  Those that did swap are now left with worthless shares.  This was exactly the same deal Lee Bramzell was trying to sell to investors in the original six hotels to prevent them from going into administration. 

Once the majority of leases at Hallgarth Manor had been given up you can guess what happened next.  Luqa Ltd lent more money to the Shepherd Cox companies and secured it over Hallgarth Manor because it was now almost entirely lease-free.  The circumstances surrounding those share swap transactions would have been looked at very closely by the administrator of the six companies because the statements made by Shepherd Cox were false and misleading, but we doubt that Luqa’s administrator will be interested.  It has a client to protect.

A further eight Shepherd Cox companies have administration applications filed against them for non-payment of monies owed to the original six companies.  Those eight were not stopped by the actions of Luqa Ltd and were presented in court on Monday 6th July. The case has been adjourned for a short period of time.  We will report on events when the court reconvenes for the second hearing.  The companies are:

1.  D & B Investment Properties Ltd – residential property;

2.  Shepherd Cox Hotels (Cheltenham) Ltd – The Charlton Kings Hotel;

3.  Shepherd Cox Hotels (Croft-on-Tees) Ltd – The Croft Hotel;

4.  Shepherd Cox Hotels (Durham City) Ltd – The Town House Hotel;

5.  Shepherd Cox Hotels (Halifax) Ltd – The New Hobbit Hotel;

6.  Shepherd Cox Hotels (Leeming Bar) Ltd – The White Rose Hotel;

7.  Shepherd Cox Hotels (Stokesley) Ltd – The Chapters Hotel;

8.  Shepherd Cox Ltd – the sales arm of Shepherd Cox which has been selling hotel rooms to investors since 2013.

It will be interesting to see whether Luqa intends to intervene in Shepherd Cox Hotels (Halifax) Ltd because it has a charge over that company.  It would be wasting its time if the intention is to cover up details of transactions.  There is a lot of attention focused on the Shepherd Cox Group and we will keep chivvying away until the truth is out.

A while ago we formed an investor group to pursue recovery actions against some of the parties involved in the Shepherd Cox scheme.  Terms have been agreed with a law firm and clients are currently being onboarded. We are looking forward to helping our international client base recover as much of their investment as they can.

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

To view our more recent update on Shepherd Cox please click here.

 

Scam Alert

Westway Holdings Scam Letter

Westway Holdings Scam Letter 300 233 Safe or Scam Support

Westway Holdings Scam Letter

A Westway Holdings scam letter has been sent to investors.  Westway Holdings Ltd is in administration.  MacIntyre Hudson and Quantuma LLP have been appointed as Joint Administrators as can be seen on this link.

The Westway Holdings scam letter is nothing more than an attempt to gather investors’ bank account details and to scam more money from them.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear Clients,

It is with deep regret that we write to inform you of our impending liquidation.  Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic that we all find ourselves in the midst of, our ability to sustain and grow the company has been thwarted, despite our best efforts.  With a large amount of company funds wrapped up in un-operational sites, underperforming properties and un-finished developments, our ability to generate capital in order to credit clients their long overdue interest payments alongside principal bond values has been limited.  This has been further compounded with several in house redundancies, as well as the furlough of several staff members and outsourced partners; and inevitably we must face the conclusion of filing for liquidation.

At present we have filed for voluntary administration which means that we are no longer in a position to act as developers or investors of Supported Housing within the property market.  Throughout our existence we have made it our ethos to provide unparalleled customer service to our investors, ensuring that our dividends were paid on time and that upon maturity dates, bonds were repaid in full.  This duty of care is something that we intend to continue despite our impending demise and therefore we are urging all existing clients who still hold bonds with us to contact us immediately in regard to redeeming your investment.

Please be aware that due to the strain that this unprecedented time has had on our company, our cash flow is at an all-time low with only around £2,500,000 available as liquid funds; as a result of this we cannot guarantee that every client will be successful in receiving their principal investment ahead of us going into formal liquidation and therefore we are requesting that you contact us urgently in relation to the above.  We will be tackling this on a first come first served basis, as we deem this to be the only fair method we have at our disposal.

Failure to act proactively will result in your principal investment value and any owed interest dissolving with us as a company when we go into full liquidation, resulting in you being owed nothing upon your now elapsed or future maturity date.

If this applies to you, please contact us urgently on 0203 488 3242 in order to discuss your options.

Yours sincerely,

Mr Joseph Griffin

Director 

This is a follow-on-fraud.

Joseph Griffin, or the person pretending to be him, has no money to disburse.  All company bank accounts are controlled by the Joint Administrators.  If there is a secret bank account with £2.5m in it (there isn’t) then it would be a criminal offence not to declare it.

Any money disbursed from that account to investors would be immediately reclaimed back from the investors’ bank accounts by the Joint Administrators.  Put simply, there is no secret bank account with £2.5m ready to be disbursed by Mr Griffin or anyone else.

Neither Joseph Griffin nor anyone associated with Westway Holdings Ltd has any power to liquidate the company.  That power lies with the Joint Administrators.

So, all things considered, this letter is total garbage and should be ignored by investors.  Anyone who responds to it is likely to find themselves receiving quite a lot of follow-on-frauds and unsolicited “investment opportunities” over the coming years.  That’s how these scammers work.

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

 

Scam Alert

UCIS Advice Point Scam Alert

UCIS Advice Point Scam Alert 300 233 Safe or Scam Support

UCIS Advice Point Scam Alert

Further to our article two days ago which you can READ HERE, we have now received a reply to our email sent to UCIS Advice Point and have also been provided with additional information on the key man, Neil Ronald Bromage.  This has caused us to raise the alert level from DANGER in our first article to SCAM ALERT in this article.  This UCIS Advice Point Scam Alert is our way of saying there are good reasons not to trust this company.

Firstly, here are the key points in the reply to our email.

“….for the record and for your information UAP is wholly owned by Mr Peter Dobson, a highly successful Lancashire based businessman. Mr Neil Bromage is a longstanding business and financial journalist who, as a result of his significant experience and understanding of UCIS`s has been of help to Mr Dobson and continues to enjoy an ad hoc consultancy role with UAP when he is not writing for the mainstream press. Mr Dobson is fully aware of Mr Bromage`s status and as such Mr Bromage plays no part whatsoever in the management of Mr Dobson`s company”.

We will return to Mr Bromage’s CV because he seems to have missed a few items out.  He claims to play no part in the management of the company and acts only as a consultant.  That is the standard position for a disqualified director i.e to claim that they are an independent consultant because a disqualified director MUST NOT direct or control a company in any way.  It’s amazing how many disqualified directors end up as “consultants” to companies which they basically control.  Directing or controlling a company when disqualified is a criminal offence.  Hence the reason why UCIS Advice Point made this statement, but is it true ?  We will take a closer look at that statement below.

We note the comments in your penultimate paragraph but have lawyers who have provided us with the necessary advice with which we are content.

The penultimate paragraph to which he refers is where we questioned the company’s statement that it is NOT a claims management company.  It’s odd that they put that on their website and in the letters they send out to investors. We ourselves have recently had discussions with the Financial Conduct Authority over what constitutes claims management activities and on that basis we believe UCIS Advice Point IS a claims management company, but we will leave that for the FCA to determine.

In writing your article you may wish to include that UAP are happy to announce that as a result of their efforts a significant “scheme” has today been launched by a major international law firm and litigation funder to assist all the investors in a £100m multi-scheme failed development to pursue their claims for recovery.

That sounds like claims management activity to us. Perhaps the use of the word “scheme”, which UAP itself chose to put in inverted comments, is rather apt based on what follows in the rest of this article.

Needless to say, that should you write anything remotely detrimental or libellous about UAP we shall respond accordingly.

Fair enough.

OK, so this is where it is going to get really interesting !

Let’s return to the gaps in Mr Bromage’s CV.  We highlighted in our previous article that Mr Bromage was disqualified from acting as a director in 2015 for a period of 10 years.  We are now aware of other issues which have caused us to upgrade this article to a Scam Alert.

As far back as 2005 the UK Parliament’s House of Lords discussed a case involving Mr Bromage for Judgement.  You can read the full text of the Judgement here, but we have copied the two most relevant paragraphs below (para 14 and 33):

14.  What Mr Hilton did not know, and did not discover until much later, was that Mr Bromage had only a few months before been released from prison on licence. On 30 October 1989 he was sentenced at Preston Crown Court to nine months’ imprisonment after pleading guilty to three offences of participating in the management of a company while an undischarged bankrupt, one offence of fraudulent trading, and nine offences of obtaining credit while an undischarged bankrupt. He was released from prison on 16 March 1990.

33.  Two of the most important facts known to BBE, but unknown to Mr Hilton, were that Mr Bromage had been made bankrupt and that while an undischarged bankrupt he had committed numerous offences of dishonesty for which he was sentenced to a term of imprisonment. These facts were known to any journalist or member of the public who had been present in the Preston Crown Court when Mr Bromage pleaded guilty and was sentenced. They were also probably reported in local newspapers.

So Mr Bromage went to prison in 1989 after pleading guilty to three offences of participating in the management of a company while an undischarged bankrupt, one offence of fraudulent trading and nine offences of obtaining of obtaining credit while an undischarged bankrupt….. The people we have spoken to have told us that they were given the impression that UCIS Advice Point is controlled by Mr Bromage, despite him being a disqualified director. He appears to have prior history of “participating in the management of a company” when forbidden by law to do so.

In 2017 Mr Bromage was in court again.  This was after he had been disqualified as a director.  Here is the press report at the time and here is the text of the Article:

A magistrate warned a bankrupt company director that he was not a “million miles” from going to prison.

Neil Bromage, 61, had failed to pay fines totalling £21,075.The fines were imposed in 2015 at Preston Crown Court when Bromage of Coniston Road, Blackpool, was guilty of a Insolvency Act offence-acting as a director when disqualified from doing so.

Magistrates heard that Bromage had promised to repay the fines at a rate of £500 a month rising to £3,000 a month. He claimed in court that he had been made bankrupt in July by the Revenue and Customs and that he had been told by the Official Receiver that the fines had been included in his list of debts by the Receiver who had told him not to pay anything.

He told the court: “I am in a state of confusion over the fines and am seeking clarification of what I should from this court.”

Chairman of the Bench Brian Horrocks ordered Bromage to return to court with some paperwork from the Receiver to back up his claims.

“I am warning you are not a million miles from going to prison,” he said.

What this tells us is that Neil Bromage was made bankrupt for a second time in July 2017.  He had also been prosecuted for a second time for acting as a director (or participating in the management of a company) when disqualified from doing so.

Now Neil Bromage is asking us to believe that he isn’t participating in the management of UCIS Advice Point.  The information we have received suggests otherwise.  We don’t believe him and that is why the UCIS Advice Point Scam Alert has been issued.

We are intrigued as to which law firm will be involved in the alleged £100m legal action he refers to.  We believe the SRA, FCA and Insolvency Service should take a look at UCIS Advice Point and its partners when “the scheme” is announced.  Mr Bromage was active in UCIS Advice Point prior to the formation of the limited company.

UCIS ADVICE POINT SCAM ALERT  –  NEWS JUST IN

We believe UCIS Advice Point is a front for gathering investor details which will automatically be passed on to organisations / individuals and used to sell other financial products to those investors.  We believe people who contact UCIS Advice Point can expect to be put on an investor list and will receive offers to invest in other products.  It seems Mr Neil Ronald Bromage is up to his old tricks again.  He writes one newspaper article so that he can claim he is a financial journalist which will give him credibility and attract more victims to his websites.

That other organisation / individual has a website www.capitalsecurities.co.uk.  This looks to be another shadowy organisation / individual breaching UK Financial Services regulations.  The websites of UCIS Advice Point and Capital Securities show that both companies / individuals are based at the same address of 3b Constellation House, Lockheed Court, Amy Johnson Way, Blackpool, FY4 2RN.  Furthermore, they both have the same telephone number of 0203 758 9119.

Neither the UCIS Advice Point website nor the Capital Securities website give any information about who the websites belong to.  That is very unusual for so-called genuine companies.  Not only that, it is illegal.

The Capital Securities website has a section on Introducers.  This is what it says “Capital Securities has over the past 10 years managed to grow an extensive database of introducers. This is mainly due to our transparent approach regarding fees. It’s very simple, we split fees 50/50 with all of our introducers!“.  It’s clear that UCIS Advice Point offers “free advice” to investors just to gather investor information which it intends to use to sell its own “investments” to people who contact it.  UCIS Advice Point is a scam.  Neil Bromage is not a financial journalist with a detailed knowledge of UCIS. He is an opportunist looking to pass on investor details to parties who want to sell investments.

Any investors who have given their details to UCIS Advice Point and are concerned by that are invited to contact us.

Here is a link to the response of an investor to a follow-on-fraudster.  This investor felt the fraudster had obtained her details from UCIS Advice Point.

 

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