British regulator hits out at financial scammers

Published:  31 Mar at 6 PM
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After some £10 million was lost by unwary investors, the British government’s Insolvency Service has finally shut down several massive scams.

Hometrader, Newbury Venture Capital and Westminster Fine Wines all operated classic scams which offered alternative investments with supposed huge returns. Hometrader specialised in properties, Newbury Venture Capital operated its buy-to-let-based Privilege Club and Westminster Fine Wines seems to have forgotten to actually purchase the rare wines sold as investments.

Another favorite of the scamming community, carbon credits, were offered by Kendrick Zale’s three directors. The certificates offered had no value as carbon credits cannot be traded on the open market, but raised a total of £900,000 for the three crooks. Compulsory liquidation was the fate of all the scammers, along with bans on holding company offices for decades. However, the unfortunates who gave away £10 million won’t get a penny back, and new scams emerge almost every day.

The latest involves cold-calling and either non-existent or valueless diamonds, and is as likely to catch out the unwary as the frauds described above. Expats reading this may well believe they’re safe as they are no longer in the UK. Sadly, since the advent of the internet, many financial fraudsters are trapping victims by persuading them they are domiciled in the UK and subject to UK law. Since the opening up of the pension freedom law last year, online misselling has become rife in expat destinations.

Fraudsters convince inexperienced investors that they are experts in their field and can help retirees living overseas to liberate their entire pension pots and earn up to 10 per cent interest by reinvesting. So far, those taken in by the patter have lost many millions in total, and the scams continue unabated.

The British Financial Conduct Agency (FCA), has regularly warned about unregistered, unqualified IFAs operating below the radar via cold-calling, unsolicited emails and the online offer of free pension reviews. Its website gives advice on how to avoid being scammed, but the number of those both at home and overseas losing most or all their savings seems to increase year on year.
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