safe or scam

Carlauren Group

Carlauren Group 2000 1333 Adam

Carlauren Group sells bedrooms to investors in what it primarily describes as “care facilities” e.g care homes.  An associated Carlauren company then rents those rooms back from investors paying an annual rent e.g 10%.  So…. an investor buys a room for £100,000 and receives £10,000 per year in rental income.  It sounds a pretty good deal to most investors.

Following our letter to investors in which we made a number of negative statements about the investment, Sean Murray and Andrew Jamieson, the key men in the company, have responded.  In the interests of fairness we are publishing below some of our statements and the Carlauren response.  We made a lot of statements so we will publish more in later blogs.

Statement 1:  “The majority of the Carlauren Group companies are heavily in debt. Many of those debts have been secured against the communal areas which investors do not own””.

Carlauren Response:  “Carlauren uses Together Commercial Finance Ltd to initially purchase its properties and immediately settles its lending within weeks of completion by our clients. We can tell you that no Carlauren properties held under Carlauren Group Ltd have any lending whatsoever from Together Commercial Finance Ltd (“TCF”)”.

Our Reply:  We think you are being clever with your wording Mr Murray.  Carlauren Group Ltd does not own the freeholds to any properties so we agree it has not incurred any debts.  However, each property is owned by a separate SPV company and there are more than 20 of them.  Those companies have the debts.  The records of charges filed at Companies House show that in the main the purchase of the properties is financed by TCF exactly as Mr Murray describes.  The records also show that in the main the debt is paid off with money raised from investors, exactly as Mr Murray describes.  There is a good reason for that.  The original debt is against the entire property and some bedrooms have now been sold therefore the debt must be cleared.  However, once the debt is cleared the Carlauren SPV then takes out further debts from TCF.  Each time the security is the property’s communal areas which the Carlauren SPV owns.  Many of these debts have been taken out in 2019.

Statement 2:  “We can prove the investments were mis-sold to investors at inflated prices”..To support this statement we provided details of three randomly selected Carlauren properties.  Let us look at one of them – Rosewell Country Home.  This property was closed when CHF 2 Ltd bought it in March 2017.  It is still closed.  CHF 2 Ltd paid £1.3m.  It sold the bedrooms off to 51 investors for £5.4m.  In January 2019 CHF 2 took out a debt against the communal areas.  The lender was TCF.  Companies House records and Land Registry records show that debt is still outstanding.

Carlauren Response:  “Property hotel value is based on the trading of it, along with the land value.  The valuation consists of a land value and a trading value”.

Our Reply:  Yes, but this property was closed when Carlauren bought it and has remained closed.  There is no trading value.  However, the good news is that until recently 51 investors have been receiving their 10% rentals on the closed property.  That means they have received more than £1m in rentals from a closed, non-trading hotel.  This brings us to Statement 3.

Statement 3:  Investors were paid rentals from their own money and from the money of new investors.  We have seen this many times and on each occasion the investment turned out to be a Ponzi Scheme.

Carlauren Response:  NO COMMENT.

Finally we would like to draw attention to the Carlauren letter of 10th July 2019 in which they state:

“In other news, the company has now started its retail international holiday sales programme beginning with China.  Our loyal partner, Paul Murphy is in transit today to meet with China’s most prestigious holiday outlet supplier…..”

Aaaah…… Paul Murphy the loyal partner.  Some of the people who have been lucky enough to meet Paul Murphy have confirmed that he is the Paul Daniel Murphy in this newspaper report (2nd row on the left).  He was sentenced to 6 years in prison for investment fraud. 

He seems to have the perfect credentials to be a “loyal partner” of Mr Murray and Carlauren Group.

The letter of 15th July 2019 from Sean Murray and Andrew Jamieson is an attempt to scare investors into thinking that an independent administrator is going to charge £350,000 per month for their work. That is just ridiculous. Yet in the same letter after stating “administrators do not work for free” he says that he is considering potentially appointing administrators !

Investors need to be very wary of supporting an administrator appointed by company directors. A Carlauren administrator would be tasked with protecting the company directors and not in finding out where investors’ money has gone.

To view our previous post on Carlauren Group please click HERE

MCI Sales Ltd

MCI Sales Ltd 450 676 Adam

During May and June, Safe Or Scam successfully recovered money for two clients who invested with MCI Sales Ltd, now renamed as TSM Corporate Services Ltd (“TSM”).

MCI Sales, also known as MCI Developments, MCI Corporate and MCI Management, changed its name to TSM Corporate Services Ltd in August 2017. It may have been driven by the portfolio of scam investments it had been selling to ordinary members of the public and the resulting bad reviews linked to its name. The key people involved in TSM are Matthew Cullum, the company director, alongside his right-hand man Thomas Scotland. They live in Deal and Folkestone areas. We have the home addresses.

Recognising their involvement in multiple scams was likely to damage their ability to attract new clients, and already having a database of investors built up over many years, Matthew Cullum and sidekick decided it was time to establish their own investment proposition. They did so under the branding of ‘South East Property’.  Their offer to investors was a short-term bond, typically two years, paying a high interest rate. Contracts were originally in the name of MCI Sales Ltd and more recently TSM Corporate Services Ltd.

Unfortunately, investors often didn’t receive the promised interest payments.  When they chased up the payments they were met with delaying tactics.  When it came time to repay the capital Cullum and Scotland stopped responding to investor emails. They just didn’t pay.  TSM Corporate Services are still selling their bonds.

Investors contacted Safe Or Scam with their concerns. We have successfully recovered the full investment + interest + costs + our fees for two investors and are now involved in the funds recovery process for a third investor.  If you are an investor who took out a bond with MCI Sales Ltd or TSM Corporate Services Ltd and you have been experiencing interest or capital repayment difficulties, please contact us. We may be able to help.

To view a more recent article on this subject please click here.

 

Access Corporate – May 2019

Access Corporate – May 2019 400 267 Adam

Access Corporate Ltd was a money mule company used by the binary option fraud which operated under the name of StratXMarkets.

SOS was able to trace some of the payments made by a client to a Metro Bank account which we believed was owned by Access Corporate Ltd. We challenged the company over its relationship with StratXMarkets and were not happy with the response we received. We then assisted a client in taking remedial action through the UK court process.

On 22nd May 2019 a Judge at the High Court in London issued an order to wind up Access Corporate Ltd. The case was brought by a Safe Or Scam client who had lost a considerable sum of money in the StratXMarkets scam.

There will now be an investigation into the company by the Official Receiver or by an insolvency practitioner appointed by the Official Receiver.

The company director, Mr Derrick Williams, had tried to avoid an investigation by placing Access Corporate Ltd into a company voluntary liquidation before the hearing. If creditors do not act quickly when a CVL is initiated it gives directors an opportunity to push through a very quick liquidation with no investigation. Mr Williams had already appointed his own preferred liquidation firm and had provided it with a list of creditors. That list did not include our client. Clearly there was an intent to speed through a dissolution without fully informing the liquidator of all creditors.

The liquidation firm was contacted and informed of our client’s claim. The result was that the court case was allowed to proceed and a judgement was made in favour of our client. There will now be a proper and detailed investigation into the business of Access Corporate Ltd. We expect the investigation to have both financial and criminal repercussions for the company director.

There were several other money mule companies involved in StratXMarkets and we are now turning our attention to those companies.

To view the previous post on StratXMarkets please click HERE

OurSpace Flop

OurSpace Flop 500 333 Adam

Last week Kevan Halliwell presented his latest rescue plan – the OurSpace flop. As it turned out it was a complete waste of everyone’s time. As you will see below, Kevan Halliwell didn’t even check with the administrator of OurSpace Investments Ltd (“OIL”) whether his plan was feasible. The administrator has blown it out of the water. If Mr Halliwell had bothered to check he could have saved everyone a lot of time.

For those who missed Kevan Halliwell’s conference call it was the same old story. The points Mr Halliwell wanted to get across were:

  1. OurSpace can rise from the ashes. He is the man for the job but he needs $2.5m to buy the shares of OurSpace Investments Ltd;
  2. The assets are under threat and investors could lose everything if they don’t pay him. Investors need to act fast;
  3. The people who do pay him will get 47.4% of the shares in OIL. The people who don’t pay him will share only 2.5% of the shares in OIL. Kevan Halliwell will own 50.1% and will have complete control of OIL.

He did make some interesting statements which were:

  • Kevan Halliwell says he will never be liable to repay investors. This was in response to a question asking if he had any personal liability. We disagree with his view. We believe he is liable to compensate investors;
  • There never was a bond issue despite this claim being made in the promotional material;
  • OVL had signed a contract to invest a further $286m but did not go through with it;
  • OurSpace was “starved of cash from day one” – his words. This is interesting because had investors known this was the case they would not have invested. Indeed, all the promotional material was focused on how well the company was doing from day one;
  • It was “not possible to pay investors from just two sites” – his words. If that was the case why did he keep selling workspaces and debentures without warning potential investors that it would not be possible to pay them from the operational sites ?;
  • Cashflow is very poor and the companies cannot continue trading on an insolvent basis. This would surely suggest that the risk of failure in his proposed new structure is very high, yet Mr Halliwell is asking investors to invest more money.

We thought it would be wise to check some of the comments made by Kevan Halliwell with the administrator of OIL. The administrator confirmed that Mr Halliwell’s new proposal was simply not possible. We therefore question what Mr Halliwell was trying to achieve. Kevan Halliwell made the statement that OVL were intending to invest $286m in OurSpace. It is our view that a company with that kind of money is likely to hold the OurSpace companies, and Kevan Halliwell himself, liable for their loss of $2.75m. We would expect them to be considering legal action against Kevan Halliwell for misrepresentation and obtaining money by deception. That might explain why Mr Halliwell is keen to raise more money from investors. It would be expensive defending himself from that allegation. The reply we received from the administrator of OIL was:

I cannot comment on the proposal that Mr Halliwell has been offering investors, save for the fact that, from the perspective of the administrators, selling the shares in OIL or creating a debt for equity swap in OIL will not work.

I have therefore made clear to Mr Halliwell that any proposal can only be to purchase the entire share capital of the Dubai operating company and any equity split as between investors/stakeholders should therefore either be a division of shares in the Dubai operating company itself or, more likely, in a new holding company incorporated to acquire and hold the entire share capital of the Dubai operating company.

In other words, the entire proposal by Kevan Halliwell is another attempt to encourage investors to send more money to a structure that will not succeed. We wonder why Mr Halliwell isn’t offering shares in the Dubai operating company. Could it be that shareholders in that company are entitled to receive company accounts which would reveal where all their money has gone ?

We would recommend that any investor considering investing in any new scheme proposed by Kevan Halliwell should insist upon seeing the full and detailed accounts of the Dubai operating company. Kevan Halliwell has never explained to investors how $30 million could just disappear.

To view our previous blog post relating to the Ourspace Flop please click HERE

European Property Coin – 6

European Property Coin – 6 150 150 Adam

We are pleased to announce that, at a hearing in the High Court in London on 27th March 2019, the Judge granted a winding up order over Clear View Marketing Services Ltd, the operator of the scam digital currency known as the European Property Coin.

Over the past year Safe Or Scam has attracted enquiries from more than 50 investors who purchased these fake coins. We worked closely with two investors to have their debts recognised by the UK courts and then to progress their cases through the UK legal system so that they could make an application to wind up the company.

The criminals behind Clear View Marketing Services (trading as Clearview Trading) knew this was coming. They proceeded to declare themselves as being in liquidation and they advised investors to deal with a fake liquidation company. That fake liquidation company was called Asset Recovery Network. There is a genuine company called Asset Recovery Network (UK) Ltd. We spoke with the director of the company and are satisfied that the crooks were just using their name. The director has since filed a report with the Police and we are helping them with their enquiries into the follow-up scam.

The people behind the fake Asset Recovery Network advised investors that their coins had been sold and they had made a substantial profit. It is the usual follow-up scam where they ask investors to pay a fee in order to release the money. Once that fee is paid the money never arrives.  

When a company is wound up the Official Receiver, a UK government department, is appointed to handle an investigation into the company’s affairs. The Official Receiver has the discretion to appoint another licensed insolvency practitioner to take over the investigation. We have proposed to investors that they consider requesting the OR to appoint a third party liquidation firm which has more substantial resources than the OR, including a forensic accounting team which is likely to be needed in this case. We have now identified 32 UK bank accounts used in the scam.

The chances of recovery are not great. However, these scams cannot be established without the support of sales agent companies, accountants and banks. If the insolvency practitioner suspects collusion in the fraud or unjust enrichment he can demand the repayment of those sums and recommend a prosecution to the Police. We will be looking closely at the legal rights for confiscation of assets. The 32 bank accounts will also bring some of the crooks out into the open for criminal charges so we are hopeful that some of the money can be recovered.

StratXMarkets – 2

StratXMarkets – 2 150 150 Adam

A legal action was started in November 2018 against Access Corporate Ltd, a cash mule company used by the StratXMarkets binary option scam.

Safe Or Scam has been working with clients who paid $500,000 into the bank account of Access Corporate as an investment into StratXMarkets. We helped devise the strategy which has led to Access Corporate Ltd being required to attend a hearing at the High Court in London at the end of February 2019.

The registered office of the company is described on this Companies House link as 36 South Approach, Northwood, HA6 2ET.

Legal papers were served at the registered office which the Process Server described as a large residential house on a golf course. Rightmove estimates the value of the property at more than £1.6m.

The response of the director of Access Corporate Ltd to Stage One of the legal action was to declare that “the company has never had a contract or agreement with the investor”. That response was deemed inadequate. The company was charged by our team with taking in $500,000 of investors’ money to which it was not entitled and being part of a scheme to defraud investors. The director conveniently avoided mentioning the money or the bank account in his response.

Following our client’s rebuttal of the company’s response, Access Corporate Ltd appointed a law firm to defend itself against the claim. Unfortunately it was too late. The solicitor raised a series of objections but was outside of the time allowed under Stage One. The objections were registered two days after the deadline laid down by law. We had already moved onto Stage Two.

The company’s solicitor claimed that although the sole director of the company owned the registered office property where the papers were served, he is rarely there as his main residence is his villa in Spain. That is no defence. A plaintiff is required to serve papers at a company’s registered office and it is irrelevant to the plaintiff if the company director is never there.

At Stage Two the company had another time limit in which to respond to the new legal papers. It did not do so by the deadline.

Access Corporate Ltd will have the opportunity to defend itself in court. We will be demanding an explanation as to the role of Access Corporate Ltd in this investment and evidence of where investors’ money was sent once it was received by Access Corporate Ltd. We are making excellent progress in exposing this scam.

There are at least three other companies which acted as cash mules for StratXMarkets and took in money from our clients. An action has already started against one of those companies. Actions against the others will follow.

For more information on the binary option scams we are investigating please visit our separate website here.

To view the previous blog relating to StratXMarkets on this website please click here


Asset Recovery Network – 1

Asset Recovery Network – 1 150 150 Adam

Asset Recovery Network UK is a recovery room scam. This means that it is brought in after the main scam has been exposed and it pretends to be able to recover some or all of a person’s investment. The truth is that it is part of a follow-up scam and it’s sole aim is to trick investors into paying more money.

Recovery room scams tend to focus on persuading investors that their worthless investment has suddenly become a desirable asset and they have found a serious buyer who wants to buy the investment. There is never a buyer for the investment.

The investor is sold a story about this mysterious buyer wanting to pay top dollar for the investment but there is just one problem. Before he can complete on the purchase he needs the investor to pay either the sales commission or the due diligence fees or the tax bill or the admin bill or the legal bill or the platform listing bill or anything else they can think up. Quite often the investor is asked for a small sum which he/she is happy to pay. Then they are asked to pay another sum and then another sum and then another sum and so on. Once the investor pays the first sum they are on the hook and keep paying because they don’t want to lose what they’ve paid. The reality is that they lost it the moment they paid over the money. Each time the payment keeps increasing with larger and larger sums being asked for. One of our clients invested £30,000 in a scam investment. He was approached by a recovery room scam in which the company told him they had a buyer. He would only have to pay £700. He paid them. By the time he made contact with us he had paid over £28,000 to the recovery room scam. They were now asking for £14,000 for the next instalment stating that if he didn’t pay he would lose the money he had already paid. Fortunately we stopped him making that £14,000 payment but we were too late to stop the £28,000.

Other recovery room scammers known to us include:

Cordell Groves, Phipps Clarke Grainger, PV-Merge, Barola Asset Management, and NLC Partners.

Asset Recovery Network UK has an unusual twist on the recovery room scam model. They pretend to be Insolvency Practitioners i.e the liquidators of the scam investment company.

The original scam company pretends to have placed itself in liquidation and to have appointed Asset Recovery Network UK to handle the liquidation. ARN UK will apparently sell all the assets of the scam company (which are normally a big fat zero) and pay out the proceeds to investors. Asset Recovery Network UK is apparently able to turn worthless assets into solid gold. According to ARN UK, they will be able to sell the assets and pay everyone back with a huge profit. There is just one problem…….. investors will have to pay something upfront first. It doesn’t matter what reason they give you for needing your money – IT IS A SCAM.

If you pay them you will never see your money again. 

OurSpace Website

OurSpace Website 150 150 Adam

The website we established for investors in the collapsed OurSpace workspaces investment is under maintenance and will be back online soon.

This is just to let investors know that OurSpace is still under investigation by Safe Or Scam and we will be continuing our efforts to recover the investments of our investor group.

We are told that the administrator has a number of corporate creditors of OIL but only one individual person. That individual is Kevan Halliwell. None of the individual investors who bought workspaces or dentures or limited partnerships are being recognised as having any rights over the two OurSpace sites in Dubai and Marbella. In our opinion that is an entirely false and scandalous position.

Sadly, we believe this case will drag on for quite a while. Halliwell and his associates will want a quick resolution so that dodgy dealings can be swept under the carpet and they can get away without any charges being levied against them, but we are not going to let that happen. Our investor group is determined to get their money back and we will oppose any effort to dispose of assets that belong to investors and not to OurSpace Investments Ltd or the host of OurSpace subsidiaries.

Central FX

Central FX 150 150 Adam

Safe Or Scam is providing investigative support to a UK solicitor involved in a case against Central FX, the UK-based currency exchange provider recommended by Bar Works Inc in the USA. Bar Works has been prosecuted and been found to be a Ponzi Scheme run by disgraced serial scammer Renwick Haddow. Renwick Haddow used the false name of Jonathan Black.

Amongst the allegations made against Central FX is the claim that it did not undertake adequate or sufficient due diligence to identify the people involved in Bar works Inc and those who owned, controlled and managed the entities it was dealing with. Renwick Haddow is under arrest in the USA facing fraud charges filed by the FBI which carry a maximum jail term of 40 years. When the FBI have finished with Mr Haddow the SEC have their own charges against him.

There is no allegation that Central FX were a knowing accomplice in the fraud. The case against Central FX is now due to progress to the Financial Ombudsman in the UK. Safe Or Scam is collating the information provided by more than 70 investors in the solicitor’s group and we expect there to be an update direct to the investor group later this month.

St Helier Capital – Update

St Helier Capital – Update 150 150 Adam

Simon Whittley and St Helier Capital Management Ltd have filed the company’s overdue accounts. They are very concerning for people who were duped into buying Preference Shares. Since the company first started taking in funds in December 2016 it reports that by the end of February 2018, a mere 14 months later, it has NIL cash in the bank. It is owed £24,000. The bad news is that it owes £711,000.

Here are two classic Simon Whittley statements: “The director of the company has elected not to include a copy of the profit and loss account within the financial statements”. 

“As at 28 February 2018 it [the company] had minimal cash resources and net current liabilities of £711,037. As of this date the company has generated no trading revenue from which to meet these liabilities and is dependent on funding from related undertakings.”

What this means is that Simon Whittley is using money raised from investors in other junk bonds he has established to keep this junk bond going. The accounts show that St Helier Capital owes £57,000 to Hawksbill Property Holdings Plc (one of his companies funded by investors) and £114,000 to Win River Developments Ltd (another one of his companies funded by investors). No doubt he will be looking to establish another junk bond in the near future to try to capture another group of fresh investors. To view the latest accounts click on this link

Recent new companies which involve Simon Whittley include Grimaud 365 Ltd, Glenview Natural Energy Ltd and Antrim Road Developments Ltd. Mr Whittley tended to work closely with Simon Paler. Simon Paler was the man who would willingly lend his name and act as a company director for Whittley’s ventures. Not any longer it seems. In the past few months Simon Paler has resigned from many of Whittley’s companies.

One company not mentioned is Avianta Capital Consulting Ltd. Simon Paler resigned as a director in October 2018. The company lists its activities as “venture and development capital” and “renting and leasing of air passenger transport equipment”. Simon Whittley’s wife owns 50% of the shares in the company.

SOS has a website for St Helier investors. It can be accessed via this link.

To view the previous blog comment on St Helier Capital Markets and Simon Whittley click here.

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