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Scam Alert

FF Returns Scam Alert

FF Returns Scam Alert 300 233 SOS Team

FF Returns Scam Alert.

A group of scammers operating under the name of FF RETURNS is contacting the victims of collapsed investment schemes promising to be able to recover all of their money in return for a fee.  There is a genuine company called FF Returns Ltd which has been in existence since 2005, but these people are not part of that company.  They are just using that company’s name.  At the moment they are contacting victims of the High Street Group scam, but it can be expected that they will branch out to contact victims of other scams.

As is standard practice in these kinds of follow-on-frauds, the scammers are using money mules to collect the fees from anyone who is taken in by them.  A money mule is normally a limited company with a bank account, but it can sometimes be a bank account in an individual’s name.  The scammers have taken control of that bank account so that as soon as any money is paid in it can be immediately transferred out, generally to an offshore account which means neither the bank nor the Police are going to be interested in trying to recover the money.

In the case of this FF Returns scam, one of the money mule accounts they are asking their intended victims to pay into is an account in the name of J.S. DEVELOPMENT SERVICES LTD.  The bank account details are:

Account Name:  J.S. Development Services     Account Number: 20425629     Sort Code: 82-61-37  This is an account at Clydesdale Bank.

A check on this company at Companies House – LINK  shows that it was incorporated on 13th April 2022.  It is less than three months old.  It’s registered office is 86-90 Paul Street, London, England, United Kingdom, EC2A 4NE which is a virtual office.  This means that there are tens of thousands of companies using that office address and if you were to visit the premises you will be told that they have never heard of J.S. Development Services Ltd.  The company has one one director, a 26 year-old man called JOVAN SINGH SAHOTA.

Acting as a company director and allowing others to control the company’s bank account for fraudulent purposes is a criminal offence which carries a prison sentence upon conviction of up to 14 years.  It’s a crime which is not punished enough because without money mules these scams could never get off the ground. Mr Sahota might view his involvement as harmless, but he is assisting in the theft of thousands of pounds from members of the public. If someone broke into a house and stole thousands of pounds they would expect to go to prison if caught.  This is no different.  Mr Sahota might only have received a small payment for allowing his company to be involved in money-laundering, but that’s no excuse.

Follow-on-frauds are rarely operated by one-man bands.  They are normally run by organised crime gangs and operated on a very large scale using lots of different money mules. Money mules can take in a lot of money in a very short period of time.  We are working one case where a money mule company took in £1.3m in less than 9 months.

Money mules are a key element in a lot of scams and the problem will only be brought under control when there is a concerted effort to prosecute offenders. In the meantime, if you are contacted by FF Returns you should report the matter to your local law enforcement organisation.  In the UK that would be Action Fraud – LINK.

FF Returns Scam Alert.

 

UPayCard Scam and Moorwand Ltd

UPayCard Scam and Moorwand Ltd 350 329 SOS Team

UPayCard Scam and Moorwand Ltd.

We have been working for some time with an investor who lost a lot of money in a binary option scam and have been tracking down the money mules which took in money for the scammers and enabled the scam to operate.  We have been having some success against some of the money mules and recently turned our attention to another one which went under the name of UPayCard.

The investor paid his money to UpayCard in March 2017.  A UK company called UPayCard Ltd had been operating under that name until November 2016 at which point it changed its name to Moorwand Ltd.  Here is a LINK to the Moorwand website.  The company is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and provides banking and card services amongst others.

UPayCard Scam and Moorwand Ltd.

In April 2021 the investor wrote to Moorwand requesting information on the UPayCard transactions.  In May 2021 he received a reply which included these statements:

“With regard to UPayCard this entity was a Programme Manager that operated under Moorwand’s licence that was acquired by a Cypriot firm Pap OnPoint in April 2019. We understand that UPayCard is no longer trading.  As much as we wish to, we are unfortunately unable to assist you further in this matter due to the fact that we  merely provided payment services with regard to the 2 payments you refer to”.

We admit to being confused by this reply.  A few months before the investor paid his money, Moorwand Ltd was called UPayCard Ltd and now it seems to be saying that somebody else took over the UPayCard business under their FCA-regulated umbrella.  They refer to the person or company which allegedly took over the UPayCard business as “this entity” but they don’t give the name of who took it over.  We found it odd that Moorwand was willing to inform the investor that in 2019 the unknown entity transferred UPayCard to Pap OnPoint i.e to give the name of the party which acquired UPayCard in 2019, but not to give the name of the entity which operated UPayCard under Moorwand’s licence up to that point i.e between 2017 and 2019.  That seemed a bit fishy to us.  The binary option scam for which UPayCard was a money mule involves quite a few Cypriot companies.  Cyprus was one of the scammers’ favoured jurisdictions for laundering money.

UPayCard Scam and Moorwand Ltd.

We have to say that Moorwand’s Anti-Money Laundering page is one of the best we have ever seen.  It is worth a look.  Here is a section from it:

Who Can be Liable for Money Laundering Charges?

Money laundering is a complex crime that requires more than one person for it to be successful. Consequently, if a money laundering charge is brought against a suspected criminal the following people can also be liable to be charged in conjunction:  

— Financial institutions

— Credit Institutions

— Accountants

— Tax Advisers

— Legal firms

— Casinos

— Auctioneers

It’s important to note that in many cases ignorance will not be an adequate defense, therefore it’s vital that any of the above people are up to date with money laundering tactics so as to not fall foul of the law.

Words which are very relevant to this investor’s case.

Moving forward to last month and there has been significant progress in finding the scammers and the money mules involved in this binary option scam.  We will write a separate article on that when it is appropriate to do so.  The investor, with our assistance, tried again to find out who was behind the UPayCard money mule operation at the time he paid it.  He appears to have been stonewalled by Moorwand.  He wrote:

“I am advised to pose two very simple related questions to you, requiring a “yes” or a “no”. Regarding my two payments, recorded as both being paid to Upaycard…… to account number 19244710 sort code 83-04-25 …… are those details of the account correct in being an account of Moorwand or not ?  To explain, I know that Upaycard Ltd changed its name to Moorwand Ltd on 11th November 2016, but did you keep the same bank account as held under the previous name or not?”

This was the investor’s first request for Moorwand to answer two questions with a simple YES or NO.

The Moorwand reply was:

“In relation to your questions:  The payments made in 2017 were made by you to an account operated by UPayCard and which were held in the name of UPayCard.  UPayCard operated, at the time, under permission from Moorwand.  UPayCard is no longer an active business; and

UPayCard was a business separate from Moorwand Ltd. UPayCard, at the time, had access to its own bank accounts.  I trust that the above assists. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have any further questions.”

Now, to a lot of people this would seem to have answered the questions the investor asked, but in fact they don’t.  They gave a “Politician’s Answer” i.e when asked to give a simple YES or NO they avoided it by providing information that the investor did not ask for.  The first part of the answer (about whether the account belonged to Moorwand) was not answered with a YES or NO.  It was answered with UPayCard this and UPayCard that, but not a YES or NO.  The second part states that UPayCard was a business separate from Moorwand and that UPayCard had access to its own bank accounts.  That’s fine, but they haven’t said who actually owned or controlled UPayCard.  It was being operated under their licence, but by who ? For all we know it could have been the people behind Moorwand.  Also, to say that UPayCard had access to its own bank accounts is a clever way of avoiding the question.  We’re not interested if UPayCard had 1, 10 or 100 bank accounts of its own.  We’re only interested in the one which received the investor’s money.  A simple YES or NO would have answered that question.

So, to give Moorwand the benefit of the doubt and allow it a second chance to answer the questions with a YES or NO, the investor tried again.  He wrote:

“I have noticed that there are at least two unknown facts which are far from clear in your response.  First of all, can you please be specific saying yes or no, was account number 19244710 sort code 83-04-25 one of your company’s bank accounts?

Secondly, I note that UPayCard is a trading name, not a company name. You say that the company was issued a licence. Please can you advise me of the name of the company which entered into the licensing agreement with you”.

He received another reply.

“In answer to your questions:

  1. This question was answered in our earlier email.
  2. UPayCard was never licensed. This was never stated in the email communication between us”.

So that’s a second time when he asked for a simple YES or NO to the question of the bank account and he didn’t get it.  Also, it has been clarified that UPayCard was never licensed, but according to an earlier email above, it “operated under Moorwand’s licence”.  That’s useful because Moorwand would have a responsibility to ensure that this mysterious new entity, the ownership of which they are very reluctant to reveal, was compliant with FCA regulations.  For a second time Moorwand declined to give details of “the entity” which was operating under their licence.  They just ignored that aspect of the question.  We’re beginning to suspect that “the entity” which operated UPayCard under Moorwand’s licence was not an arms’ length independent entity and that it may have been associated with Moorwand and its directors in some way.

So the investor tried a third time. He wrote:

Thank you for your email, but you have not answered my questions. A YES or NO will be sufficient for the first question:  

Can you please be specific saying yes or no, was account number 19244710 sort code 83-04-25 one of your company’s bank accounts?

Can you clarify your response to question 2.

I note that UPayCard is a trading name, not a company name. You say that the company was issued a licence.  Please can you advise me of the name of the company which entered into the licensing agreement with you. Moorwand gave permission for some entity (you haven’t said who or what that entity was because “UPayCard” is just a trading name) to provide regulated services under the UPayCard name. As UPayCard was carrying out a regulated activity this makes you responsible for their conduct.

I note that you have not registered any entity as being an Appointed Representative of your company. Please can you tell me which entity was given the permission or I will be obliged to make a complaint against Moorwand, report this matter to the FCA and seek compensation from Moorwand through the FOS.”

He received another reply:

“The answers we have provided are perfectly clear. We will not be drawn into these matters further, which in our view are irrelevant as to the nature of your grievance. This will be our final response. Of course you are welcome to complain about Moorwand to the FOS (and/or report this matter to the FCA). This was mentioned in our correspondence to you back in May 2021. 

Please ensure that you include a copy of all our correspondence to the regulator should you choose to make a complaint.”

That’s the third time the investor asked for a simple YES or NO.  If the answer is NO then why not just say it and then the matter is done?  The more they avoid using YES or NO the more suspicious it looks.  Also, they have yet again declined to provide any information on “the entity” which was operating UPayCard under their license.  Instead they have invited the investor to report the matter to the FOS and/or the FCA, presumably because they think he won’t bother – but he will.  Dealing with the FOS and the FCA is going to be much more time-consuming and cause more damage to their reputation than simply writing YES or NO and giving details of the entity which was operating UPayCard.  We think Moorwand is hiding something.

UPayCard Scam and Moorwand Ltd.

What is clear is that UPayCard was a money mule which was laundering money for scam operations.  We are certain that many more ordinary investors will have paid money to UPayCard and we would like to hear from anyone who paid money to UPayCard from 2017 onwards and feels that they were a victim of a scam.

This article was sent to Moorwand for their comments prior to publication. We did not receive a response.

UPayCard Scam and Moorwand Ltd. 

We received some additional information just as this article was being published.  We will review and publish a follow-up article next week.

 

Green Swan Holding Ltd Bond – Simon Whittley-Ryan

Green Swan Holding Ltd Bond – Simon Whittley-Ryan 300 200 SOS Team

Green Swan Holding Ltd Bond – Simon Whittley-Ryan.

In Dec 2021 we were contacted by a man who said he had information on Simon Whittley-Ryan, his attempts to hide money from creditors of his companies, and his latest attempt to deceive large investors into paying for a new bond.

The informant, who we will call “the Source”, explained that Simon Whittley-Ryan was using a front man called Andre Johan Schut to hold all the shares in the UK companies, Green Swan Holding Ltd (LINK to Companies House) and Green Swan Investments Ltd (LINK to Companies House), but the ultimate owner and controller of the companies was Simon Whittley-Ryan.

The Source claimed to have a file on the activities of Simon Whittley-Ryan and Andre Schut.  It was important that Simon Whittley-Ryan remained under the radar due to his succession of business failures and the investigations being undertaken by insolvency firms.  The Source said that Andre Schut was a business associate of his who owed him a lot of money.  He had been waiting a long time for repayment which was due to come from the sale of the bond issued by Green Swan Holding Ltd.  The Source told us that he had lost patience and had decided it was time to expose the scheme because it was dishonest.  We never reveal the identity of anyone who provides us with information and we try to put scammers off the scent, but this is an unusual case because the Source chose to tell Whittley-Ryan and Andre Schut that he had been in contact with us and that he had provided us with information and documents relating to the bond. We will still not reveal his name in this article.

Here are a few of his emails to us:

“I think that my file is very interesting also due to the fact that I am aware of funds located in Swiss circumventing the UK creditors. I have also documents from banks etc. Bear in mind in the UK is Sir XXXXX [name redacted] also involved with 5M he is starting to lose without knowing.  I would appreciate to have a phone call with you or your team first so that we discuss and make arrangements of delivering the files”.

SOS clarification – he is talking about Sir XXXXX who paid $5m to progress the bond and the Source is claiming that Simon Whittley-Ryan has control of a Swiss bank account which he claims contains money that should be paid to one or more of the liquidators of Simon Whittley-Ryan’s companies.

“I want to have a good understanding how you work because I don’t want people being protected. Can you assure me that people who are so called “unpleasant involved” like banks etc are not mentioned by name on the internet as well as my name? In addition I want to claim against his window director who owns me millions”.

SOS clarification – when he talks about “window director” he is referring to Andre Schut acting as the front man in the company for Simon Whittley-Ryan.

“The reputable people don’t see and know it is SWR behind it. That’s why I warned André Schut that knowing and making side letters with SWR and attracting Sir XXXXX [name redacted] as investor for the binders fee in my opinion he is not straight.  But [law firm] and [settlement bank] knows SWR is involved, that is also remarkable don’t you think”?  “What I have is the Cusip so you check yourself and I’m willing to evidence SWR’ role and his window dressing as well his Swiss company”. [Our bold].

Simon Whittley-Ryan has a long history of failed companies and bond defaults.  Four of his fixed-interest / fixed return companies are in liquidation having been closed down by investors who have lost a lot of money.  All of these companies raised money from investors, paid the interest / dividends for a short period and then defaulted.  Investors in a fifth fixed-interest company owned by Simon Whittley-Ryan have been waiting years for overdue interest payments and the return of their capital.

The Source advised us that Andre Johan Schut also has a poor history relating to investments.  He said that Mr Schut had lost a lot of the Source’s money in unauthorised deals which breached the terms of their investment agreement.

Green Swan Holding Ltd Bond – Simon Whittley-Ryan.

Green Swan Holding Ltd has issued a $250m bond through a settlement bank in the USA.  We will respect the Source’s request that we do not name the bank.  It is normal practice for a settlement bank working with a UK company to register a charge at Companies House to protect its interests.

The company directors are shown below.  The official Green Swan company line is that Simon Whittley-Ryan is employed as “a consultant” to the company.  Anyone who may be under investigation or who has a toxic past which would raise alarm bells will often seek to hide their ownership of a project by being described as a consultant.  This enables them to get paid.  We’re not sure what skills Mr Whittley-Ryan has which would be deem him worthy of being appointed as a consultant to any company.

The directors of Green Swan Holding Ltd are (at the date of publication):

ANDRE JOHAN SCHUT  –  Date Of Birth – May 1965;

CHARLES GRIFFITHS  –  Date Of Birth  –  May 1949;

PHILIP ROBINSON  –  Date Of Birth  –  October 1960; and

GRAHAM DAVID KERSLAKE  –  Date Of Birth  –  October 1960.

The same people are directors of Green Swan Investments Ltd.  The activity of Green Swan Investments Ltd is described as “Other Credit Granting Not Elsewhere Classified”.  The company is not FCA-regulated.

Graham David Kerslake’s relationship with Simon Whittley-Ryan goes back a long way.  We’re not sure why Charles Griffiths and Philip Robinson agreed to be directors, but they and Graham Kerslake need to be careful that they aren’t putting themselves and their assets at risk.  If this bond fails and the insurer refuses to pay out we doubt that the bond buyer(s) would simply accept the loss of $250m.  The directors can expect to be asked some difficult questions about whether there was full and honest disclosure from the start and about their roles in the companies.  The existence of an insurance policy is no guarantee of protection for a bondholder where Simon Whittley-Ryan is involved.  We cover Simon Whittley-Ryan’s use of insurance companies as a means of providing false reassurance to investors below.

SIMON WHITTLEY-RYAN’S LIQUIDATED COMPANIES

Win River Developments Ltd (in liquidation)

What is clear from Simon Whittley-Ryan’s previous companies is that he likes to sell fixed-interest, fixed-term products such as bonds.  The investors’ money is always paid to third party organisations.  For example, in Win River Developments Ltd (a Whittley-Ryan company which is in liquidation) he used Alexander David Securities Ltd (“ADS”) which is a FCA-regulated company.  It was being run at the time by a man called Angus Fredrick Rose.

Payment to a third party allows company funds to be disbursed to other third parties and to bank accounts owned by a company director without those transfers showing up in the accounts of Win River Development Ltd.  This provides a way for a company director to unjustly enrich himself and others.

WRD was wound up by the High Court in January 2020.  The liquidator of the company is entitled to receive all the company records and full disclosure from company directors, officers and any third party which holds records relating to the company.  The WRD liquidator requested records from Simon Whittley-Ryan, Alexander David Securities Ltd and an unnamed individual who we believe to be Angus Fredrick Rose because he was the director of ADS at the time.  The liquidator has advised creditors that all three parties have failed to fully co-operate.

WRD has now been in liquidation for 2 ½ years and the liquidator still hasn’t received all the company records.  This is typical Simon Whittley-Ryan behaviour which he has replicated in his other liquidated companies.  Failure to disclose records is generally an indicator that there have been dishonest transactions that they do not want investigated.  Honest parties with honest business transactions would have no reason not to hand over company records to a liquidator.

We have been advised by a creditor of the company that the liquidator of WRD updated all creditors in late May.  The information shared by the liquidator was:

  1. That the company director (Simon Whittley-Ryan) and Alexander David Securities Ltd and an unnamed individual (which we believe to be Angus Fredrick Rose) refused to co-operate and have not provided all the information requested of them.
  2. As a result, the liquidator served legal paperwork on all three in early 2022 advising them of legal action to obtain a Court Order compelling them to provide the information. The most important documents relate to failure to provide bank statements so that investor monies can be traced.  Failure to comply with a Court Order is regarded as Contempt Of Court and is a criminal offence.
  3. The hearing for the court application is this week on 29th June 2022. The first hearing in April was adjourned at the request of one of the defendants.
  4. Creditors have been approached by Simon Whittley-Ryan to support his plan to remove the existing liquidator and appoint a liquidator chosen by Mr Whittley-Ryan. This is being seen as an attempt to frustrate the legal process and install a liquidator who would be sympathetic towards Simon Whittley-Ryan.  He failed to gain support for this proposal.
  5. Simon Whittley-Ryan has made multiple promises to repay creditors ever since the company was put into liquidation 2 ½ years ago.

Regarding point 5, this is a standard tactic used by Simon Whittley-Ryan in order to delay creditors from taking action against him.  Investors in another of his companies, Highgrove Osprey PLC, received the same promises for 6 years until one of them realised he was never going to pay them and wound up the company.  Investors need to be aware of the Limitations Act in respect of starting legal actions against a wrongdoer.  This LINK to Wikipedia gives a good overview.  As a general guide, victims have 6 years from the date of the investment to start a legal action.  There are some circumstances where this time limit can be extended, but victims need to be wary of false promises of repayment which go on for a long time.

This is not the only problem facing Alexander David Securities Ltd.  In late April 2022, the Financial Conduct Authority issued a statement about Alexander David Securities Ltd and the action the FCA had taken in relation to another element of its business.  It’s no wonder that ADS is trying to hide its transactions with Simon Whittley-Ryan because that might well provide the FCA with another reason to look at them.  Here is a LINK to the FCA announcement.

A liquidator has the power to demand the repayment of any money which it feels belongs to the company and has been unjustly paid out to directors and third parties.  We believe the WRD records are likely to show unjust payments to Simon Whittley-Ryan and/or his other companies and/or his accomplices, hence the reason why the three parties have been reluctant to hand over their records to the liquidator.

Highgrove Osprey PLC

This company was wound up in September 2019.  Since that time Simon Whittley-Ryan has also failed to co-operate with the liquidator and has not paid back funds he “loaned” from the company to himself.  According to page 6 of the liquidator’s report from November 2021 (copied below) Simon Whittley-Ryan owes at least £100,377 to the company.  The liquidator states “My investigations into the other assets listed above…..have been hampered by a lack of cooperation from Simon Whittley-Ryan”.  That statement was issued more than 3 years after the company was wound up which shows how Simon Whittley-Ryan always seeks to prevent any investigation into his failed companies.  Here is a LINK to Companies House which contains the full report.

Here is a LINK to Page 6 which doesn’t paint Simon Whittley-Ryan in a very good light at all. Page 6 of the Liquidator Report

Hawksbill Property Consultants Ltd (in liquidation)

This company was wound up in February 2020 by HM Revenue & Customs.  The matter is being handled by the Official Receiver in London and to date the Official Receiver has not filed any reports.

St Helier Capital Management Ltd (in liquidation)

This company was wound up by a creditor in December 2020.  Page 9 of the liquidator’s report filed at Companies House in May 2022 states that limited books and records have been delivered up and therefore our investigations remain very much underway but have been restricted due to the limited information held”.  Yet again Simon Whittley-Ryan is frustrating investigations into another of his failed companies.

During the winding up process Simon Whittley-Ryan lied to the court about having paid some investors when their capital was due to be returned. We knew those investors and were able to contact them to ask if they had been repaid. They all said that they had not received any money. We know Simon Whittley-Ryan is an accomplished liar and knows how to frustrate legal processes, but we did not think he would submit a written Witness Statement to court in which he blatantly lied.  We have written about the St Helier Capital Management petition in a series of articles. You can read one of them here via this LINK. 

SUMMARY OF LIQUIDATED COMPANIES

There is a consistent theme which runs through Simon Whittley-Ryan’s liquidated companies and it is that he and his associates seek to frustrate insolvency practitioners whenever they try to trace company money and assets.  Normally when a company director fails to co-operate with the liquidator the Insolvency Service will commence proceedings to have that person disqualified from acting as a director.  The proceedings are not made public until they have concluded so we do not know if Simon Whittley-Ryan is currently subject to any director disqualification proceedings, but it would be surprising if he was not.

OTHER SIMON WHITTLEY-RYAN SCAM COMPANIES WHICH HAVE NOT BEEN LIQUIDATED

There are several but we will only report on two because they are important.  The first is CAMBRIDGE MEDICAL SCREENING LTD – LINK to Companies House which was an outright scam from the very start.  It was Simon Whittley-Ryan’s attempt to defraud investors by claiming to operate a specialist coronavirus research company at the height of the pandemic.  We wrote a full report on this in September 2020 which can be viewed on this LINK to our article.  We have an update on that article.  We were recently contacted by Professor G.K. Mahadev who Simon Whittley-Ryan claimed headed up the research and testing division of the company.  Professor Mahadev has advised that this was never the case and that he was not involved with the company.  We accept his version as true because Simon Whittley-Ryan has made many false claims across all his companies in his ongoing attempts to defraud investors.  We hope Professor Mahadev takes action against Simon Whittley-Ryan.  Cambridge Medical Screening Ltd was dissolved in December 2021.

The second company is NATURAL CAPITAL ENERGY LTD.  This Whittley-Ryan company was trying to launch a $200m Green Bond which was very similar to the Green Swan Holding Bond in terms of the claimed project portfolio.  It was not well received and failed to attract investment.  Graham Kerslake’s project LORDS MEADOW ENERGY was one of those in the Natural Capital Energy Ltd portfolio and it is also in the Green Swan Holding Ltd Bond portfolio.

The Natural Capital Energy Bond Term Sheet is copied below.  This bond was allegedly going to be managed by Petra Asset Management Ltd, a FCA-regulated company which has this website – LINK.

We contacted them in November 2020 to ask about their role in this investment product.  They did not respond.  We used their contact email address of info@petraassetmanagement.co.uk and we followed up a few weeks later.  Still no response.  We were intrigued by the claim that the bond was asset-backed using “precious gemstones” held in a vault in California.  We have no doubt this gemstone security would have provided the same level of protection as the insurances arranged by Simon Whittley-Ryan in some of his other companies (see below) i.e it would have been worthless and afforded no protection whatsoever.

Natural Capital Term Sheet – LINK to PDF file

HOW DOES SIMON WHITTLEY-RYAN EXTRACT THE MONEY FROM HIS INVESTMENT COMPANIES ?

His normal tactic is for each of his investment companies to invest the money in other companies owned by him.  This enables him to empty the investment company of its money and, when the investment company goes into liquidation, which is the normal outcome, it prevents investors from being able to find out exactly how their money was spent.  The transfer of money from his investment companies to other companies he controls acts as a barrier to creditors, preventing them from following the money trail.  The consistent outcome is that all the companies end up with nothing – no cash and no assets.  This has been our concern about the Green Swan Holding Bond ever since the Source told us that Simon Whittley-Ryan controlled the Green Swan companies.  If he follows his usual pattern we’re concerned he will install front men in each of the project companies which will allow him to siphon off the bond money.

INSURANCES ARRANGED BY SIMON WHITTLEY-RYAN

We know of at least two companies owned by Simon Whittley-Ryan which sought to reassure investors that their investment funds were secure because he claimed the companies had strong and cast-iron insurance policies in place to protect the investors’ money in the event of a default.  Those two companies were Win River Developments Ltd (in liquidation) mentioned above, and Win River Ltd which is not in liquidation, but which defaulted on bond interest and capital repayments to investors a long time ago.  Win River Ltd has not filed accounts for three years and has been prevented from being dissolved by Companies House.  Investors who have sought to make claims under the insurance policies in both companies have been advised that the insurance is invalid and will not pay out.  At a recent meeting between investors in Win River Ltd and the insurer the following summary was given:

The Insurance Company has confirmed to our lawyers that it has avoided (or rescinded) the Win River Ltd policy on the basis that the company made deliberate and/or reckless material non-disclosures and/or misrepresentations to the Insurance Company when the WRL policy was negotiated and agreed.  These related to Mr Simon Whittley-Ryan’s background and involvement in previous investment schemes.

So the insurance policies have proven to be worthless. A report has been submitted to the Financial Conduct Authority requesting that they look into the circumstances of this case.

THE GREEN SWAN HOLDING LTD BOND WEBSITE

This is a simple paragraph because there isn’t a website, but there was until recently.  It was to be found on the domain of www.greenswaninvestments.com .  We contacted Green Swan via the Contact Page on the website to ask about the role of Simon Whittley-Ryan.  Remember, according to them Mr Whittley-Ryan was only “a consultant”.  He has been telling all the creditors of his companies that he is going to “refinance” the liquidated companies and pay everyone back.  His promises would have required him to pay back millions of pounds so we wanted to know how money paid into Green Swan Holding Ltd would find its way to him.

A few hours after hitting the “SEND” button on the Contact Page, the Green Swan website disappeared and has not been seen since.  Obviously they didn’t like being asked questions about the role of Simon Whittley-Ryan, but it suggests to us that he controlled the website. It’s not a problem that the website has gone because we had already printed off every page. Website About Green Swan – LINK.   It provides an interesting glimpse of the backgrounds of three of the company directors of the Green Swan companies.  It doesn’t mention Andre Schut’s financial issues with the Source.

Here is the ‘PARTNERS’ PAGE Website Partners Green Swan – LINK  Maybe they are, or were, partners of Green Swan Holding Ltd and/or Green Swan Investments Ltd, or maybe it was a complete fabrication.

GREEN SWAN HOLDING LTD BOND  –  SIMON WHITTLEY-RYAN AND THE GREEN SWAN BOND INSURANCE

Obviously, there is a difference between insurance which should cover a few million pounds and insurance which covers $250m.  You would certainly think so, but the Green Swan bond insurance saga has had a tortuous path.  That’s another story, but suffice to say they’ve found it very difficult to find an insurer.  The principle of insurance is always the same.  The insured party must provide full disclosure and transparency otherwise the insurer will have a potential cause to invalidate the policy in the future.  The reality is that insurance companies have no problem dealing with people like Simon Whittley-Ryan.  The insurance company will receive a large insurance payment at the start and, assuming that there hasn’t been full disclosure, there’s a very strong possibility that they can avoid ever having to pay out in the event of a default.  The only people affected by this are the bond buyers who are relying on the insurance to protect their investments.  They are the losers.  The insurance company and the people who make “deliberate and/or reckless material non-disclosures and/or misrepresentations…….” as Simon Whittley-Ryan has done on at least two separate occasions, are the winners because they’ve got the investment money they were after.

Looking back through the numerous emails sent out by Whittley-Ryan we can see that he was having trouble finding someone to pay “the binders fee” for the insurance.  That fee was $5m and it acts as the first insurance payment.  It is really a sign of commitment to encourage the insurance company to spend time working on the policy.  We won’t go into the insurance companies which declined to insure the bond, but when the Source contacted us he told us that the binder fee had been paid.  That ties up with emails sent by Whittley-Ryan.  The Source advised us that the funder was a well-known, recently knighted man with connections at the very highest level of UK Government.  He expressed surprise that someone so highly connected had been persuaded to support this bond.  We will not name the man because we cannot prove that he was, or is, involved.  That is something we will leave to more experienced financial journalists.  That insurance company withdrew and we do not know if the binders fee was refunded or rolled over to another insurance company.  The Source advised us that the binders fee funder had stayed involved and was trying to find another insurance company, but we have no evidence supporting his statement.

It was at this time that the Source started to back-track on his original position.  He began to claim that both Andre Schut and Simon Whittley-Ryan were going to receive commission payments only from the sale of the bond. We suspected that a deal had been done to repay some of Andre Schut’s debt to the Source.  In April this year Andre Schut transferred his 100% ownership of the shares to a Swiss firm, Delta Mountain AG (90%) and Graham Kerslake (10%).  It was widely known that Graham Kerslake had been touting his LORDS MEADOW ENERGY project around looking for anybody who would finance it because the planning permission deadline was fast approaching. We assume the 10% shareholding was to persuade him not to give up on Green Swan.

THE SETTLEMENT BANK AND SIMON WHITTLEY-RYAN

In February 2022 we wrote to Andre Schut.  We received a short reply which didn’t answer any of our questions.  We were surprised that he made no effort to refute the points we made against Green Swan Holding Ltd.  The email and response is copied below:

SOS EMAIL

Dear Mr Schut,

You will be aware that we were contacted in December regarding the Green Swan Holding Ltd bond.

We are writing to you to get answers to some important questions. Our clients would like all parties involved in the Green Swan bond e.g banks, brokers, the SEC, FCA etc to be informed of their concerns. Your answers to our questions might allay those concerns and encourage our clients to reconsider. 

We have clients who have lost money in Simon Whittley-Ryan’s (“SWR”) series of fixed term investments. Five companies in total. They are:

  1. Highgrove Osprey PLC;
  2. Hawksbill Property Consultants Ltd;
  3. St Helier Capital Management Ltd;
  4. Win River Developments Ltd;
  5. Win River Ltd.

Companies 1-4 were forced into liquidation by creditors after the companies defaulted on their contractual liabilities. These defaults go back to 2014 in some cases. Company 5 also defaulted on the fixed payments and on the capital repayments some years ago. SWR has obstructed the insolvency practitioners in the liquidated companies by failing to co-operate. Company assets have gone missing. SWR and his friendly escrow company and the escrow company director are respondents in court proceedings in April filed by one of the insolvency firms. You can easily check out these companies for yourself by contacting the insolvency practitioners and reading their reports filed at Companies House. 

SWR’s preferred strategy over the years has been to incorporate new companies and sell new fixed-term investments, rather than to raise additional funding for his existing companies which have defaulted on payments. In each new company he pays himself commission from funds raised, which would not be acceptable practice for a company director and would show up in the companies’ accounts. Hence the reason he uses new companies because he can have the investment funds paid to a friendly escrow company which then makes disbursements to him. It is believed by some creditors that he was running a Ponzi Scheme, using money raised by new companies to sustain fixed interest payments to investors in his other companies until this scam strategy was exposed. The belief is that this is why he obstructs investigations into each of the companies’ affairs. 

We were initially told that you were acting as a front man for SWR in Green Swan, but that was later retracted. Our clients and us believe that you are acting as a front man and are holding shares on behalf of SWR which you have not declared. Can you confirm whether you are holding shares in Green Swan Holding Ltd for SWR or any other party, and if so, in what percentages ?

SWR’s normal MO is to ensure that he holds more than 51% of shares in the top company and shares in each SPV which subsequently receives funds from the top company. That is how he ensures he always profits from the top company’s money. He also takes commission which is sometimes direct from the top company (as with Green Swan) and sometimes via an escrow collection agent so that the top company’s accounts only show the net amount it received and his commission remains hidden.  

Can you also answer the following:

  1. In January we used the Contact Form on the Green Swan Investments website to contact the company. We asked whether there had been full transparency on the bond ownership and in the Information Memorandum. The next day the website was taken down. We have copies of each page and can provide them if necessary. According to filings at Companies House you own 100% of both Green Swan companies so was it you that removed the website and if so, for what reason ? Our question on whether there has been full transparency still remains unanswered 
  2. Have you declared the true beneficial owner(s) of the company to the parties involved and in the promotional material ? Have you entered into any side agreements which have not been declared to the parties involved with the bond ? 
  3. You claim that SWR is a consultant to your company. Why does he use different versions of his name on different email addresses e.g Simon Ryan and Simon Whittley ? For Green Swan Investments (your company) he uses the name ‘Simon Ryan’, but you know that is not his real name. He has never been called Simon Ryan. His birth name is Simon Whittley and he married a ‘Ryan’, thus changing his name to Simon Whittley-Ryan.
  4. Do you own the projects that you claim to own ? You will note from the attached document that Natural Capital Energy Ltd claimed they owned the projects, but a former director has advised us that was never the case. He claims this document was produced by SWR, and the Natural Capital Energy directors chose not to support it and resigned. We were also told that the UK authorities have an ongoing investigation into the company, but we were not told why. 
  5. Have you described SWR as a consultant so that he can draw commission because he would appear, on paper, to be independent of Green Swan ? We have been advised by a former director of Natural Capital Energy that investment into that company was unachievable because SWR insisted that £8m of funds raised should be paid to him in commissions, despite him being the 100% shareholder of the company. No potential investor was prepared to agree to that. Was the subsequent Green Swan product refined to ensure that SWR doesn’t appear as a director or shareholder ? 
  6. In the past, SWR has arranged insurance policies to allegedly protect investors’ capital. When the investment has collapsed the insurer has declined to pay out citing undeclared material facts about which it should have been informed when the insurance application was made. Are you satisfied that you are declaring all material facts to insurers and that there would be no risk of any insurer declining to pay out in the event of a claim ? Do you feel that you should advise the parties involved in the bond about the trading history of your “consultant” ? 

We would very much like this to be a genuine investment because SWR has been promising to repay creditors for a very long time, but we believe there is some doubt around the level of disclosure which you would be able to clear up very easily by answering the questions.. 

We have not copied this to all known bond participants yet because we want to give you an opportunity to clarify these points in writing so that we and our clients can be satisfied everything is above-board.

We have copied in Mr Kerslake because he knows exactly what went on in Natural Capital Energy and is obviously close to the centre of Green Swan too. If there is any hint of dishonesty we will have to report this matter to the SEC and FCA.  

It will be the Green Swan company directors who will be held to account for any deception. We doubt the companies involved in the bond who may have incurred significant costs would be willing to let that go. We would expect them to take action against the Green Swan directors to recover their costs.

If you genuinely own 100% of the shares without any encumbrances or side agreements you would not be restricted from entering into any agreement with other parties. Have you considered restructuring the bond with more credible parties than SWR and providing security for SWR creditors ? SWR could not complain because he has been promising to repay all creditors for years.  

Please come back to us by the end of the week because our clients are expecting answers to these questions..

ANDRE SCHUT’S REPLY

Dear Sir

We refer to your email dated 16 February 2022 timed at 13.16. 

We would refer you to Companies House in respect of any information you seek on Green Swan Holding Limited.

We have no further comment on the matters you raise and will not be entering into any further correspondence with you.

 Yours sincerely

André Schut

Director 

Green Swan Investments Ltd.

71-75 Shelton Street

Greater London, WC2H 9QQ

United Kingdom

As we did not receive answers to our questions we wrote to Lance Bondy and Shazia Flores at the Settlement Bank sending them a copy of our email and Mr Schut’s reply.  These were the officials who were dealing with Simon Whittley-Ryan although they might not have realised it was him.  Our email is below:

Dear Sirs,

Please see below an email we sent to Andre Schut, a director and 100% shareholder of Green Swan Holding Ltd (according to records filed at Companies House in the UK). You will note his reply to our email which did not address any of our clients’ concerns. Perhaps you may have more luck than us in obtaining answers to the questions we put to him.

Simon Whittley-Ryan specialises in incorporating fixed return investments, defaulting on the payments and then obstructing insolvency firms when they seek to investigate where the money and purported assets have gone. He has recently taken to using the name Simon Ryan to avoid drawing attention to his failed business history. 

We are hoping that by forwarding the emails it will enable you to undertake due diligence to satisfy yourselves you have had full transparency in your communications and that the bond buyer’s funds will be fully protected by the insurer.

If you are satisfied, please let us know so we can reassure our clients that the repayments promised by Simon Whittley-Ryan will originate from funds raised by legitimate means and will not be subject to clawback at any time in the future.   

We did not receive a response to the email.  What we found concerning was that the Source had provided us with a number of emails between Simon Whittley-Ryan and the settlement bank. We’re not sure whether the bank was actually aware that they were dealing with Simon Whittley-Ryan.  The email addresses he was using were not in the name of Simon Whittley-Ryan.  He used three separate email addresses when communicating with the bank, none of which were in the name of Simon Whittley-Ryan.

1. In his Green Swan email address he calls himself Simon Ryan.  Andre Schut was copied into these emails and he knows that Simon Ryan is not his real name.  He never said a word.

2. He also used a petra-am.co.uk email address in which he again calls himself Simon Ryan.  We wonder whether the petra-am.co.uk domain name was being used as a deception to suggest to recipients that he was somehow part of FCA-regulated firm Petra Asset Management Ltd.  This domain does not link to their website so we wonder who owns it and why  We think it is likely that Simon Whittley-Ryan owns that domain name.  We don’t know if anyone at the bank sought to question this.

3. He also used a Natural Capital email address in which he calls himself Simon Whittley.

We’ve seen emails to the bank officers where he has used one email address to write to them and copied it to the other two email addresses. Didn’t anyone think to ask him to explain ?

If anyone is tempted to buy into the Green Swan Holding Ltd Bond we suggest they take additional steps to protect themselves.  They would be wise not to rely on the insurance policy because, as we have shown, an insurance policy is no use if it can be invalidated due to deceit and failure to disclose.  They might want to consider obtaining personal guarantees from all the Green Swan directors, the settlement bank, the Swiss escrow company, Sir XXXXX and other involved parties.  They might also want to consider what restrictions they can impose to prevent money paid to the projects ending up in Simon Whittley-Ryan’s pocket.

Green Swan Holding Ltd Bond – Simon Whittley-Ryan.

Here is a document sent to us by the Source which evidenced the bond at the time.  Bond Cusip Numbers

This article was sent to Andre Schut and the Source prior to publication to ask if they would like any amendments or corrections. Andre Schut did not reply. The Source did reply to tell us that Andre Schut had now agreed to put money by for our clients from the bond sale which would be held by our solicitor.  However, he said that Andre Schut would have to ask Simon Whittley-Ryan for his permission to do that !  This had been suggested months ago and we knew it was just them stalling for time. The Source was also disappointed that we intended to publish some of his emails. We explained that nobody outside of the Green Swan circle would know who he was and he had already told them so the emails needed to be published because they showed the level of deception.

What’s Next ? Well, the Source said that Simon Whittley-Ryan has another bond coming out.  It is a hotel bond and this time he is intending to raise $500m !  The insurance company must love Simon Whittley-Ryan.

Green Swan Holding Bond – Simon Whittley-Ryan. 

 

Scam Alert

Ward & Co Insolvency Practitioners Scam

Ward & Co Insolvency Practitioners Scam 300 233 SOS Team

Ward & Co Insolvency Practitioners Scam.

We have been contacted by a few investors and by a genuine Claims Management Company called ACL Consultancy regarding an attempt by scammers to persuade victims to send them “insurance” money. The scam company is operating under the name of Ward & Co Insolvency Practitioners and here is a LINK to their scam website. It operates under the domain name of wardinsolvencyservices.com.  This domain was purchased by the scammers in March 2022. The website has only been in existence for three months at the time of writing this article.

The website looks very credible and professional.  That is because it has copied pages from genuine websites. For example, the page on High Street GRP has been copied from this page on the ACL Consultancy website – LINK.  ACL Consultancy is a genuine FCA-regulated claims management company which is handling claims on behalf of High Street GRP investors.  The owner of ACL Consultancy has reported this matter to the Financial Conduct Authority.

A check on the UK’s Insolvency Service website reveals that they have no record of Ward & Co being authorised as a licensed insolvency practitioner.  Genuine insolvency practitioners NEVER charge investors.

An investor who we have helped in the past recover money from a different scam, also contacted us about the Ward & Co Insolvency Practitioners scam.  His email and the letter he received is below.

Hi [Name],

I was recently contact by a guy called Richard Yates from this company called Ward & Co. They claim there is an amount of GBP XXXXXX payable to me from High Street Group which will be paid in 2-3 days, but to enable payment I need to take out an insurance (see letter attached) which will cost me in excess of GBP XXXXXX. This seems like a scam to me, do you have any knowledge of this?

To which our reply was brief:

Hi [Name],

It’s a scam. You don’t need any insurance policy to receive a payout. There isn’t any payout.

A redacted version of the letter he received, where all text potentially identifying him has been removed, can be seen below.

Ward & Co Insolvency Scam – Letter Requesting Insurance Payment – REDACTED

Never pay any money to any party claiming to be an insolvency firm or claiming to be representing an insolvency firm.

 

Scam Alert

Sky Capital Holdings Inc Money Mule Account

Sky Capital Holdings Inc Money Mule Account 300 233 SOS Team

Sky Capital Holdings Inc Money Mule Account.

Following our recent article on the LXK Inc and Wellington Capital Group scam – LINK, we have been contacted by a person who invested in that scam and who has also fallen victim to the subsequent follow-on-fraud.  A follow-on-fraud is where scammers contact victims of investment scams claiming to have recovered their money. The funds can be released upon payment of a fee.  The victim in this case was asked to pay the fee into a bank account in the name of Sky Capital Holdings Inc. Unfortunately he saw our Scam Alert after he had paid his money.

You will note that Sky Capital Holdings Inc is allegedly a company based in Beijing, China, but is having the money paid to a Wells Fargo bank in California.  We believe this to be a money mule account whereby any money deposited in the account will be immediately swept out and transferred on to the scammers.

There is another money mule account which is being used by the same scam. This is an account in the name of PT STOCK VALUE INDONESIA and the bank is based in Jakarta.  We have copied the bank account details below:

BANK:   UOB INDONESIA

BENEFICIARY NAME:   PT STOCK VALUE INDONESIA

SWIFT:   BBIJIDJA

USD ACCOUNT NUMBER:   538 900 0486

We have come across this money mule account before when it was being used in a different scam.  We wrote to the bank two years ago to get it closed down, but clearly it is still in operation and still stealing money from investors.

Sky Capital Holdings Inc Money Mule Account.

 

Scam Alert

Maddox Capital Partners Scam Alert

Maddox Capital Partners Scam Alert 300 233 SOS Team

Maddox Capital Partners Scam Alert.

Yesterday we wrote an article – LINK about a follow-on-fraud being perpetrated by an organised crime gang operating under the name of Porterfield Financial Holdings.  The Porterfield scam started in March 2022.  The same group is running several follow-on-frauds from the same office at the same time.  Maddox Capital Partners is another one of them.  The website domain name was purchased in October 2021, but by February 2022 the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK were made aware of the activities of the fake Maddox Capital Partners and issued this warning to the public – LINK.  Within three weeks the scammers were back, repeating the exact same scam under the name of Porterfield Financial Holdings.  They have a conveyor belt of fake companies.

They have been running the same scam for years using the same document but just changing the branding.  Investors have sent us what they have received.  We have removed anything which might indicate their identities and have copied their documents below.

We would draw your attention to the phone numbers for the two companies.  They are the same ! Phone numbers can easily be faked. There are companies which specialise in providing numbers which give the appearance of being in London, Washington, Tokyo etc, but they automatically divert to call centres operated by the scammers which can be based anywhere in the world.

Maddox Capital Partners_Fake Guarantor Form_Redacted

Porterfield Financial Holdings_Fake Guarantor Form_Redacted

Maddox Capital Partners_Fake Invoice_Redacted

Porterfield Financial Holdings_Fake Invoice_Redacted

Needless to say this is a follow-on-fraud targeting investors who have already fallen victim to a scam.  Most likely one of the sales agents or the “back-office service provider” has sold the contact details of investors to the organised crime call centre so they can hit the phones and send out their email broadcasts.  Do not be fooled by the promise that an organisation is holding funds and all it needs is a small fee to release the money.  It is NEVER true.

Maddox Capital Partners Scam Alert.

 

Scam Alert

Porterfield Financial Holdings Scam Alert

Porterfield Financial Holdings Scam Alert 300 233 SOS Team

Porterfield Financial Holdings Scam Alert.

An organised crime group calling itself Porterfield Financial Holdings is carrying out a follow-on-fraud against people who invested in Green IS Group Ltd (“GIS Group”).  GIS Group sold bonds to ordinary retail investors to raise funds for its alleged forestry operation in Brazil.  The company was wound up by the High Court on 16th March 2022 and is now in the hands of the Official Receiver.

The Porterfield Financial Holdings scam model is one that we have reported on many times.  This scam group uses different company names and slightly different branding each time, but the documents are always the same and the scam has been going on for years.  The scam model they are using is the one where the scammers pretend to be working with, or pretend to be, the Official Receiver.

They claim to be holding funds (in this case £22.2m) which is available for distribution to investors.  All the investors have to do is pay an upfront fee.  As we have said before in other articles, the Official Receiver or any other liquidator WILL NEVER charge an upfront fee to any creditor.

We have copies of the documents that are being used in the Porterfield Financial Holdings Scam.  We have seen identical versions before because the documents never change.  Porterfield has a scam website which follows the same format as the other scam websites they have used in the past.  Here is an excerpt of some text from their Home Page.

THE OPPORTUNITY

Porterfield Financial Holdings has reached demanding valuations, fuelled in part by central bank policies.

​Idiosyncratic opportunities are rising in an increasingly late-cycle market exhibiting rising dispersion and periodic bouts of volatility.

Credit and equity events are ever-present in the market and provide natural de-correlation to market beta.

Such a backdrop requires a dedicated portfolio approach and asset class flexibility to exploit the opportunity set, navigate market stress and deliver uncorrelated returns.

Here is a link to an article we wrote in August 2021 on a follow-on-fraud called Premier Capital Finance – LINK.  The documents are identical to those used by Porterfield and here’s the text from the Premier Capital Finance Home Page:

THE OPPORTUNITY

Premier Capital Finance have reached demanding valuations, fuelled in part by central bank policies.

Idiosyncratic  opportunities are rising in an increasingly late cycle market  exhibiting rising dispersion and periodic bouts of volatility.

Credit and equity events are ever present in the market and provide natural de-correlation to market beta.

Such  a backdrop requires a dedicated portfolio approach and asset class  flexibility to exploit the opportunity set, navigate market stress and  deliver uncorrelated returns.

It’s identical. And just to highlight the point here’s another piece of text from a different scam website which goes under the address of capfinuk.com – LINK to scam website.  It was launched in February 2022:

THE OPPORTUNITY

Capital Finance has reached demanding valuations, fuelled in part by central bank policies.

Idiosyncratic opportunities are rising in an increasingly late-cycle market exhibiting rising dispersion and periodic bouts of volatility.

Credit and equity events are ever-present in the market and provide natural de-correlation to market beta.

Such a backdrop requires a dedicated portfolio approach and asset class flexibility to exploit the opportunity set, navigate market stress and deliver uncorrelated returns.

It’s also identical.  This organised crime group is working out of a call centre and doesn’t like to have all its eggs in one basket so it often runs several follow-on-frauds at the same time.  This is another trait that we see quite often in follow-on-frauds.

Over the next few days we’ll issue another Scam Alert on a follow-on-fraud which started in January 2022 and is being operated by the same people. We will publish the documents they are using so readers can compare and see that they are exactly the same. Not only that, but the phone number for this second scam is the same phone number used by Porterfield Financial Holdings !

Porterfield Financial Holdings Scam Alert.

 

Essex and London Properties Trial Concludes

Essex and London Properties Trial Concludes 300 300 SOS Team

Essex and London Properties Trial Concludes.

The trial of seven men involved in the Essex and London Properties scam has concluded with five of the men being found guilty and two of them acquitted. At this point we suggest you click across to our previous article – LINK HERE to read some of the background before coming back to this article.

The guilty men were:

MOHAMMED TANVEER

ABDUL MUKITH

FLORIAN PIERINI

MOHAMMAD HUSSAIN

JEFFREY RAZAQ

The men who were acquitted were:

MITCHELL MALLIN

ANTHONY WHYMARK

Looking at the men who were acquitted we were surprised that Mitchell Mallin was found not guilty. He was the only director of the company. With hindsight perhaps this is not such a surprise after all. The scam came into being in August 2015 when Terence Smith, a relative of Mitchell Mallin, became the sole director of Essex and London Properties Ltd. Within 3 months Terence Smith died and Mitchell Mallin was appointed. We have repeatedly said that Mitchell Mallin did not have the ability to establish contracts, oversee sales agents or run a back office. There had to be smarter people behind this operation. It was also clear that Mitchell Mallin wasn’t going to be the person making the big bucks out of this scam.

Anthony Whymark ran a sales agent company called APEX ALTERNATIVE MARKETING LTD – Link to Companies House, which traded under the name Apex Alternatives. We don’t know the reason why he was acquitted, but that is potentially good news for a lot of investors. Anthony Whymark / Apex Alternatives was involved in selling a lot of scams and investors in some of those scams may now be able to pursue their claims against him.

As far as the guilty men are concerned we will start with Mohammed Tanveer, 33, of Coventry Road, Ilford. He had already pleaded guilty before the trial to conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of fraud. There was a Muhammed Tanveer – Link to newspaper article (different spelling of Mohammed) who was jailed in April 2019 for money-laundering offences. He was aged 30 at the time. The ages tie up.

Abdul Mukith, 42, of Great Godfreys, Writtle, is a man we have been able to tie into other scams. Here is an article from July 2021 – LINK confirming his involvement in the Coastal Supported Living scam.

Florian Pierini, 35, of Morley Road, Leytonstone, London, is a typical second-hand car salesman figure who spends a lot of time admiring himself in front of any shiny surface he can find. He’s a low-level operator who is desperate to climb up in the scam world. Florian Pierini pitched the European Property Coin scam to his accomplices above and was given money by them to get that scam off the ground. Hopefully the Police will now start to investigate that scam too. Here is an article we wrote in July 2018 almost four years ago – LINK when we had started to expose the European Property Coin scam.

We still don’t know very much about Mohammad Hussain, 31, of Church Close, Kidlington, Oxfordshire. We’re hoping more will come out about him when the trial papers are available.

Finally there is Jeffrey Razaq, 60, of Gunton Cliff, Lowestoft, Suffolk. Jeffrey Razaq is a disqualified director linked to other scams. Most recently he has been acting as the arranger for a ‘vertical farming’ scam. As we mentioned in our previous article the farmer they were intending to partner with tried to persuade us that Jeffrey Razaq was not a defendant in this case. He had fallen for Razaq’s story that he had been helping the Police and was actually a witness for the prosecution !

Sentencing is due to take place on 25th July.

To view the public release of information on the Essex Police website please click on this LINK. 

The Police will now be able to take steps to recover money and assets from the guilty parties under The Proceeds Of Crime Act (“POCA”). The aim will be to compensate as many victims as possible. We have helped some victims of the Essex and London Properties scam establish a legal action against an involved party who was not charged with a criminal offence. That legal action is underway and is expected to reach a conclusion next year.

Essex and London Properties Trial Concludes.

 

Scam Alert

Domain Name mncio-ssl.cn Scam

Domain Name mncio-ssl.cn Scam 300 233 SOS Team

Domain Name mncio-ssl.cn Scam.

We have had this scam before. We spend a lot of time issuing Scam Alerts for frauds targeted at individual investors, but for once here is a scam targeted at businesses. It’s basically a domain name blackmail operation. If we were to reply to this email below they would know that we are interested and would ask for a lot of money to “protect” our brand name in Hong Kong or China. If we then decide not to pay them they would buy up the brand name / domain name and then claim that scammers have bought it and they can get it back for a large fee. They would already know that we were concerned.  Domain names in HK and China are cheap.  We couldn’t care less because we’re wise to it, but some bigger brands or small businesses might be concerned about receiving this email and be tempted to respond. There’s no doubt that China is a big market for some companies, but they should ignore this email if they receive it.

Here is the email we received.

lynn.d@mncio-ssl.cn

Dear President or CEO,

 Please read this letter carefully since this is an urgent case. Recently, we received the registration request from FeiYu Global Ltd applying to register safeorscam brand and domain names(cn hk etc), which have same main body as your company’s name. We send this letter to confirm with your company whether or not you authorize them to register those names. Please give me your thoughts ASAP so as to let us carry on, Thanks.

Best Regards,

Lynn Du

Tel:+86 559-5144-820

Fax:+86 559-5144-820

Address:Sunon Plaza No 399 Jinzhai Road, Hefei, China – LINK to scam website – DO NOT CLICK.

We checked the domain of mncio-ssl.cn.  It was bought in November 2021.

This is the second attempted scam operating out of China we have reported on this week. The other one was this article on LXK / Wellington Capital Group – LINK. You can click on this link because it is safe.  It looks like the organised crime groups in that region are starting to expand their operations.

Domain Name mncio-ssl.cn Scam.

 

Scam Alert

LXK Inc / Wellington Capital Group Scam

LXK Inc / Wellington Capital Group Scam 300 233 SOS Team

LXK Inc / Wellington Capital Group Scam.

In June 2019 we issued a Scam Alert about LXK Inc and Wellington Capital Group.  You can read that original article here – LINK.  This is a scam which was primarily focused on investors resident in Asia, but as with all scams the global reach of the internet allows scammers to attract investors from around the world.

That article was written almost three years ago.  To bring things up to date, investors who are trying to recover their money have begun to receive details of a classic follow-on-fraud scam designed to squeeze more money from the victims. This follow-on-fraud is attempting to convince investors that the Bank Of China has come to their rescue and has agreed to buy up all investors’ shares in LXK Inc.  As with every follow-on-fraud the victims’ funds can only be released if a fee is paid.  That’s the scam.

We have copied their introductory email below:

From: Bank of China <LLiang@bocxbj.com>

Subject: Re: LXK Shares

Date:

To:

Cc: Bank of China <pzhang@bocxbj.com>

Dear

We appreciate the inquiry and response to the LXK Inc. class action notice and I will outline Bank of China’s role in this transaction.

Bank of China was not a participant in the negotiated settlement in fact before we were contracted to facilitate the settlement, we had little knowledge of LXK was or the history of the company, so we did our due diligence before we accepted the appointment by the CSRC to contact all the shareholders and execute the forms and distribute the funds.

I have attached the CSRC official document outlining the lawsuit and settlement particulars as well as a road map as to the distribution of assets and those assigned to facilitate the settlement.

I have attached all the closing documents package needed for settlement and transfer, the documents include and invoice, designated banking form, and the bank details for required fees for settlement.

I have also included a Letter of Intent/Proof of Funds from Bank of China Corporate the designated holding account that will distribute the funds to Bank of China International Holdings Ltd for distribution,

As stated on the invoice attached, we will be collecting $XXXXXXX USD in Escrow Transaction Fee (ETF), that consist of Legal, Escrow and Administration Fee’s, these fees are required and will be remitted to JP Morgan Chase Bank N.A./BOC LTD Holdings Inc. to be monitored and administered by the regulator (CSRC) as to not only have an orderly transaction but to discourage any malfeasance or collusion by any party, the banking details are attached.

Imperial Transfer Ltd. (Imperialtransferltd.com) will be the assigned transfer agent of record they will be responsible for retrieving your signed share certificates after you have received your settlement payment.

If you agree to the terms of this settlement as there is no negotiation and all fees must be paid prior to collecting your settlement funds, as your settlement funds will not be released to BOC International Ltd for distribution until the required fees have been collected, those are your terms for settlement by order of the China Securities Regulatory Commission. 

To expedite this transaction, we need you to initial the invoice and send back as well as the banking form filled out as to where you want your settlement proceeds, and when you have made your fees transfer, please remit a transfer copy, we’re very efficient and expeditious, you will have your proceeds within 14 days of fees being collected and credited thanks again for your response I hope I have made this transaction process very clear. 

Thank you for your interest and participation

​Best Regards,

Li (Lee) Liang

Sr, VP International Banking

Bank of China, International Holdings LTD.

Ying Tai Business Center

#28 Finance St, Tower 2 15th Floor

Xicheng District, Beijing 100000

86 (10) 6622 9000 

LLiang@bocxbj.com

www.bocigroup.com

We have copied below a couple of the documents which the scammers have been using.  Any text that might reveal the identity of the investor who sent this to us has been blacked out.

LXK Scam_Fake Confirmation Of Funds_Source Details Redacted.

LXK Scam_Fake Regulator Announcement.

LXK Scam_Fake Escrow Arrangements.

These documents might fool some people but it’s quite easy to prove this is a scam.  For a start, we took a look at the email address they use.  They use the domain suffix of “bocxbj.com” e.g pzhang@bocxbj.com as seen above.  We assume the ‘boc’ was intended to stand for Bank of China and the ‘xbj’ is possibly meant to suggest Beijing.  We did a quick check on this domain history.  This domain was purchased in November 2019.  We’re fairly sure that the Beijing branch of Bank Of China would have been using email before November 2019.  The other thing we can say with a fair degree of confidence is that it is highly unlikely that Bank of China runs its operations through servers located in MISSOURI, KANSAS !  That’s where the servers for ‘bocxbj’ are located.

The email advises investors that share transfer documents will be handled by Imperial Transfer Ltd with the website address https://imperialtransferltd.com/ .  It’s a rubbish website, but that’s not surprising.  The domain was only bought in January 2022.  This scam is only a couple of months old.

The email finishes with a clever trick.  They provide a link to their website.  Only it’s not their website because it doesn’t use the domain name they use.  It’s the website of a company that was formed 20 years ago.  They hope that the intended victim doesn’t spot that the website address is different to their address.

If you ever receive anything claiming to be from the Bank of China or from the China Securities Regulatory Commission requiring you to pay money to recover an investment you made, your first thought should always be – SCAM !  Check it out thoroughly before you even think about paying any money.  There is a 99.999% probability it’s a scam.

LXK Inc / Wellington Capital Group Scam.

Since this article was published, two money mule bank accounts linked to the scam have been identified. Further details can be found in this article – SKY CAPITAL HOLDINGS INC MONEY MULE ACCOUNT.

 

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