Car Insurance Scam – Fake Brokers

Last week the BBC ran this article on their website – Ghost Broking: Young and vulnerable people targeted by insurance scam – LINK. 

The gist of the article is that scammers pose as middlemen for insurance companies.  They claim to be able to arrange cheap car insurance for those struggling to get affordable cover. They might advertise on student websites or WhatsApp or social media. They might actually arrange the insurance, but then cancel it without the insured person’s knowledge. This means the money is returned to the scammer and the victim is left uninsured. The victim may never know unless they are involved in an accident or pulled over by the Police for some reason.

So what can you do ?

You can warn friends and family to watch out for these kinds of scams. When you come across one you can report it on social media and encourage others to spread the news to get any scam accounts blocked. You can report it to Action Fraud.

Life is hard enough without having to wonder whether every text or email might be a scam. Unfortunately that is today’s modern world and the best advice we can give is to treat every text or email you receive as a potential scam. Don’t pay just because you receive a text from an organisation you recognise. Scammers are very good at copying the branding of any organisation or government department.

 

Social Media Scammers Target Under-35’s via Whatsapp

In case you missed it, the BBC published a very good report into how scammers use Whatsapp and social media to contact younger members of the public to con them into transferring money.

The report can be viewed on this LINK to the BBC article.

It’s very difficult for anyone to know whether any contact is genuine because scammers use email, whatsapp, text messages amongst others and they pretend to be the tax office, insolvency firms, insurance companies etc. The best policy is if in doubt contact someone you trust or a citizens advice website and ask them to look at it. Do not contact any email or phone number given to you in the communication because the scammers are very good at putting their victims at ease. Their documentation is also very professional and designed to mimic genuine documents issued by genuine authorities.

Check it out before you part with any money.

 

Ward & Co Insolvency Fraud

A report has been published on the Safe Or Scam website regarding a fake insolvency firm which operates using the domain name of wardinsolvencyservices.com.

The domain was purchased in March 2022 and these scammers have been contacting High Street Group victims in an attempt to persuade them to hand over more cash as an “insurance payment” so they can receive a non-existent payment out of the insolvency. It’s a scam.

They may have started targetting High Street GRP victims, but it will not be long until they expand into contacting victims who have lost money in other scams.  The website looks very credible and professional because it has copied pages from genuine websites such as 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.  They have reported this matter to the Financial Conduct Authority.

Ward & Co is not a licensed insolvency practitioner company and never has been.  Genuine insolvency practitioners NEVER charge creditors for receiving a distribution from the insolvent company.

It is important that you never pay any money to any party claiming to be an insolvency firm, or claiming to be representing an insolvency firm, in order to receive a distribution. 

To view the full Safe Or Scam article click on this LINK.

 

Green Swan Holding Bond and Simon Whittley-Ryan

An article has been published on the Safe Or Scam website raising due diligence concerns and deliberate non-disclosure in attempts to raise $250m for a Green Swan Holding Bond.

An informant provided information that the Managing Director, and until very recently the 100% shareholder of Green Swan Holding Ltd, was acting as a front man for Simon Whittley-Ryan and that it was Simon Whittley-Ryan who owned and controlled the bond. The informant called the Managing Director, Andre Schut, a ‘window director’.

The reason why this is a concern is because Simon Whittley-Ryan has a history of failed companies behind him. When those companies have collapsed he has then failed to co-operate with the insolvency firms making it very difficult for them to trace where the investors’ money ended up.

The key points from the article are:

  1. Simon Whittley-Ryan has defaulted on interest and dividend payments for five companies. Four of them are in liquidation and he has not been co-operating with any of the insolvency firms. He also tried to persuade investors he had an operational Covid-19 research company at the height of the pandemic into which he was seeking investment. That was a scam.
  2. Two of his companies claimed to have cast-iron insurance policies to protect investors’ money. When the companies collapsed the insurance companies refused to pay out citing, in the case of Win River Ltd, 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”.
  3. Simon Whittley-Ryan is involved in court proceedings brought by one of the insolvency firms to force him to handover the records of the company which he has refused to do for two and a half years.
  4. Andre Schut of Green Swan also has a chequered financial history. The informant claims that he is owed millions by Andre Schut.
  5. Emails sent by Simon Whittley-Ryan to banks, prospective insurers and others involved in the bond show that he uses two names – Simon Ryan and Simon Whittley. He uses Simon Ryan with a Green Swan email domain and his emails are copied to Andre Schut’s Green Swan email address which suggests that Andre Schut is a collaborator in the deception.
  6. The informant claims to be aware of a Swiss bank account under the control of Simon Whittley-Ryan which the informant claims is money that belongs to UK creditors and has been hidden from them.

The article questions whether anyone can rely on insurance negotiated by Simon Whittley-Ryan or Andre Schut. If they have failed to disclose material facts then the insurance company will not pay out. It suggests some extra measures a potential buyer might want to consider such as personal guarantees from the directors.

Simon Whittley-Ryan has realised that his ability to take money from members of the public has been irreparably damaged and he is now using a fake name and hoping that institutional investors won’t pick up on his background in their due diligence process.

The full article can be viewed on this LINK.

 

Essex and London Properties Trial Ends With 5 Guilty Verdicts

The trial of seven men involved in the Essex and London Properties scam has ended. One man pled guilty, four men were found guilty by the jury and two men were acquitted. The case was investigated and brought to court by Essex Police.

The Essex and London Properties scam persuaded ordinary investors to become limited partners in a Scottish Limited Partnership. In effect, investors were giving loans to the company at 10% annual interest. The money was supposed to be invested in UK property. More than £13m was taken in and only one property valued at around £150k was purchased. The rest of the money was stolen.

The five men who were found guilty were

MOHAMMED TANVEER

ABDUL MUKITH

FLORIAN PIERINI

MOHAMMAD HUSSAIN

JEFFREY RAZAQ

Most of these men have also been linked to other scams. The two who were acquitted were Mitchell Mallin (the company director) and Anthony Whymark (a sales agent who owned Apex Alternatives).

The five men who were convicted will be sentenced at the end of July. For a more detailed report visit this article on the Safe Or Scam blog page.

LXK Inc and Bank Of China Follow-On-Fraud – Scam Alert

A Scam Alert article has been posted on the Safe Or Scam website warning investors of a follow-on-fraud involving shares in LXK Inc.

In brief, scam sales agents (one of which was called Wellington Capital Group) sold fake shares in LXK Inc. That scam has run out of steam so they have moved into the recovery room phase which is to approach the victims and claim that their shares have been sold and a full refund is being held for them. It will be released if the investor pays the release fee.

The organisation which is overseeing these transactions is claimed to be the Bank Of China. The LXK Inc scam was originally marketed very heavily in Asia so it is no surprise to see them name-dropping Bank Of China in this follow-on-fraud.

Safe Or Scam has seen a lot of follow-on-frauds where Bank Of China is claimed to be involved in some way. For the avoidance of doubt, Bank Of China is definitely not involved.  It is a scam.

The documents that the scammers are using are very professional. The story they have put together is believable to most ordinary people. This follow-on-fraud was not put together by a couple of low-level idiots. This has all the hallmarks of an organised criminal gang operating a large call centre staffed by their own salespeople.

The full article, which includes the documents these scammers are using, can be viewed on this link to the Safe Or Scam article.

 

 

 

High Street Group loses second auditor in a year, still 18 months behind with accounts

This article below was written by the previous owner of bondreview in April 2021. It is being published because now that High Street GRP Ltd is in administration it will be interesting to see whether or not the prophecies came true. This article is 12 months old so it will obviously have been overtaken by events later in 2021.

Safe Or Scam has written two articles on the High Street GRP Ltd administration on its blog page

Lady Bracknell: Now, to minor matters. Are both your parents living?

Jack: I have lost both my parents.

Lady Bracknell: To lose one parent, Mr. Worthing, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness. I would strongly advise you, Mr. Worthing, to try and acquire some relations as soon as possible, and to make a definite effort to produce at any rate one parent, of either sex, before the season is quite over.

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

High Street Group has lost a second auditor in the space of a year.

A filing with Companies House indicates that Haines Watts, who signed off the December 2018 accounts for holding company High Street Grp, have resigned as auditors.

Big Four juggernaut PWC had previously resigned as auditors in September 2020.

Before resigning, Haines Watts did manage to sign off the December 2018 accounts for the holding company High Street Grp Ltd. The accounts, as reviewed here, revealed that HSGrp would have made a loss of £24.5 million in 2018, had it not dumped High Street Commercial Finance, which raised money from bondholders, out of the group and into the personal ownership of HSG owner Gary Forrest. Haines Watts however objected to this move, on the basis that this booting out actually took place on 2 January 2019, and issued an “Adverse Opinion”, the strongest black mark available to an auditor.

Whether this has anything to do with Haines Watts’ subsequent removal as auditors is unknown.

HSG’s second auditor resignation in a year leaves a considerable amount of work undone. High Street Group remains a whole year and a half overdue with the December 2018 accounts for High Street Commercial Finance, which previously raised money from its bondholders; it has also been overdue with its December 2019 accounts since last year. The High Street Grp holding company remains overdue with its December 2019 accounts.

In my original review of January 2018, I noted that:

The investment literature claims that the group made 26 million profit in 2016 and has 100 employees. This is curious, because that level of profit and workforce would require the group to file full accounts with Companies House, yet High Street Grp Ltd’s last accounts (30 December 2016) were filed under the small company regime. This means the accounts did not have to be audited or display a profit and loss statement.

High Street Group’s subsequently posted accounts for 2017 and 2018 did appear to qualify for small company exemptions thanks to its losses and negative net assets. The issue is with the claim in the literature that it had a profit of £26 million in 2016. (Which is neither confirmed nor contradicted by the relevant accounts filed with Companies House, due to the profit and loss account being withheld under small company exemptions.)

High Street Group, via their lawyers, have twice vehemently contested my joining of the dots, claiming that I had defamed them by doing so. Yet they have never attempted to explain the discrepancy between a) the results claimed in its literature b) its claiming of small company exemptions, despite me asking them directly.

High Street GRP Ltd – News

High Street Group logo

When Safe Or Scam took over the bondreview site there was one condition. We had to agree not to publish any articles about High Street GRP or any of its subsidiaries on this site.

We won’t go into the reasons because it was before our time, it’s none of our business and we aren’t particularly interested in what happened previously. We agreed because that was the deal, but now that High Street GRP is in administration we will re-publish the articles which were published by the original owner.

They’ll be out of date of course because things have moved on. We recommend that anyone interested in High Street GRP Ltd or any of the High Street Group subsidiary companies, of which there are around 100, visit the Safe Or Scam blog page because we refused to allow Safe Or Scam to be subject to the same gagging deal which prevented bondreview from publishing articles. We agreed that we would honour the bondreview agreement for this website, but Safe Or Scam will never be gagged.

If you want to make comments on articles then bondreview is the place to make them. The Safe Or Scam site allows comments, but it’s not really what we do. We like to focus on investigations, scam alerts and recovery actions.

Here’s a link to a Safe Or Scam article about the HSG administration published on 23rd March 2022.

It’s worth a read because the administration is a lesson in misdirection and non-disclosure. Another article was published on 24th March 2022 as more things came to light.

Over the next few days we will re-publish those original HSG articles on this site and they will be open for comment.

Recent Articles by Safe Or Scam

The following is a list of articles which have been published on the blog page of the Safe Or Scam website in the public interest.

Safe Or Scam Category: Follow-On-Frauds (aka Recovery Room Scams)

These are where victims of scams are approached by a party which promises they can recover some or all of the money lost in a scam. The approach always results in the victim being asked to pay more money.

BURLINGTON CAPITAL HOLDINGS

STERLING HOLDINGS

GLOBAL INSOLVENCY SOLUTIONS

KINGSGATE INSOLVENCY

PAUL DONOFRIO

ALASTAIR DOBBIE / NICO BRUYNIKS / ROBERTO PANCALDI / GIAN LUCA FETTA

LODORE

REDSTART INVESTMENTS

TEXPARK LONDON / TEXPARK INVESTMENTS

Safe Or Scam Category: Articles on Companies

FESTIVAL HOTELS GROUP – a spin-off from the Shepherd Cox Hotels scam.

MERGER MASTERS INTERNATIONAL – a share scam.

HIGH STREET GROUP – a bond scam. Now in administration. The previous operator of bondreview was restricted from publishing any articles on High Street Group, but Safe Or Scam has published several articles.

RENOVARE FUELS – run by two men who established the Solari scam and who also run Teysha Technologies and Nextgen Nano.

PROJECT RF-1 – run by the same two men who established the Solari scam and who also run Teysha Technologies and Nextgen Nano..

STRATXMARKETS / ROSS ST CLAIR – a binary option scam (see ‘SCAM TRACKERS VIDEO below. A victim of the STRATXMARKETS scam is producing videos describing his experience).

HARLEY STREET PROPERTY CLUB – run by a serial scammer and his wife.

Safe Or Scam Category: General Information

SERIOUS FRAUD OFFICE – opinion that the SFO is taking more of an interest in high profile unregulated investment scams.

MONEY MULES – an initiative to expose and target the people who establish or participate in money mule activities.

SCAM TRACKERS VIDEOS – a new initiative to give victims of scams an opportunity to publish videos on their experiences. See this Youtube Link. Any victim of a scam is invited to produce their own video story.

ESSEX AND LONDON PROPERTIES – an update on the criminal case being heard against six men who established or participated in the scam.

JAMES MOORE SENTENCED TO 11 YEARS – an update on serial scammer James Moore who received an 11 year sentence in the USA.

WHATSAPP SCAM – a record of an unsolicited whatsapp communication where a scammer pretends to be a family member who needs money to be sent to cover a fake debt.

FRE Plc – An Investor’s Story

This article has been written by a bondholder in FRE Plc . The opinions expressed in this article are those of the investor. She has taken it upon herself to form a Facebook Group for FRE bondholders which can be accessed via this LINK. https://www.facebook.com/groups/freplcbondholdersforum

In October 1992 I lost my 9 year old, diabetic son to a sudden, devastating hypoglycaemic attack, in the bathtub of our home. My 11 year old daughter found him floating face down in the bathtub,  I knew half of me had died and my girl had lost the only other family she has in this country, apart from me. 

In September 2013, she and her partner had their first baby girl, beautiful and perfect in every way, and 2 years later another daughter just as precious. I knew that I would spend the rest of my life trying to ensure that their lives would be happy, safe and free of the fear and worries I had experienced as a single mother. Tragically it would not prove that simple. Just 2 years later their eldest  was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Suddenly my daughter was stepping into my shoes: a poor single mother, living in a tower block full of junkies and alcoholics, working full-time for a low income. She split up with her partner and I was the only other family she had.

So, when my mother died and I inherited some money, I redeemed the small mortgage on the home I share with my partner, and committed the remainder to an investment in FRE Plc to secure my daughter and the children’s future, while helping to safeguard their planet’s climate.  I am passionate about supporting ethical issues and investing in what I believed was an ethical and safe investment. I searched the Internet, using Ecosia – the search engine that plants trees – and at last found a company that fitted the bill: ethical, environmentally beneficial, offering a good return to borrow money to develop onshore wind power in the UK and reduce reliance on Fossil Fuels!  I researched the company’s background and looked at their filings on Companies House. I was no expert but I tried to make sure what I was buying was as safe as I could make it. Yes, there is always an element of risk, but wind power – they explained – was subsidised by the Feed in Tariff, and so guaranteed by the UK Government. Besides – they added – even if anything should go wrong and the Company should go into administration, Bondholders have “first charge” and so would get their investment back from the sale of the wind turbine sites before any other creditors.

The charming saleswoman assured me that, as FRE was busy re-powering some of its sites, installing more powerful turbines where permits allowed it, these would increase in value, over the following years, generating more revenue than ever and securing the long term future of Bondholders’ investment. It was the answer to my prayers! I was told that, as someone they considered to be “a high net worth individual” – by dint of the sum I had inherited – I would be accepted on Phase 4 investment. As the money came into my possession, between 2018 and 2019, I retired, because my health had taken a dip, and I elected to dedicate my time and energy to childcare, to free my daughter from expensive after-school fees.

It was then that I paid FRE Plc. well in excess of £100,000, feeling that at last I could sleep easy at night, knowing that soon I could help her buy a home, so she would no longer have to pay rent, or feel afraid in her own home.  For a while the interest came in, punctually, until May this year (2021), when my hopes were shattered by an email that was like a bolt out of the blue. After a lengthy explanation it announced that:

It is with great disappointment we must inform you that, in light of these developments in our sale process, it is now clear that there will be, in all likelihood, a deficiency in our asset value when compared to our Bondholder obligations regardless of the outcome of this exercise. It is this impact we write to you today to seek your own approval on the way forward.

In the interim we have halted payment of interest on your Bonds in order to ensure we are not preferring any creditors under legal advice. This interest will continue to accrue and form part of any future claim you have in the portfolio.

The money my 92 year old mother had so carefully invested into her property, that she had held on to, even when she could have done with extra help and care, was now evaporating, leaving behind a fraction of the proceeds from her sacrifices and my well-intentioned investments. Meanwhile, those who had given their assurances disappeared. Both the salesperson and her manager had gone leaving behind the founder, a man with 31 Directorships under his belt – who had proved inept at best and possibly fraudulent at worst.

I have hardly slept a single night, since then and curse myself for being so naive…  “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is!”  the words echo in my mind, and I feel devastated, hating myself for my naïveté.

Meanwhile men like these will be free to go on to destroy other lives like my girls’ and mine. They will not suffer because their wealth is beyond our reach and they will not even lose any sleep!

SAFE OR SCAM COMMENT – FRE PLC is currently attempting to force through a vote on restructuring. This is similar to other bond investments which have also recently claimed that investors have supported restructuring proposals after opaque, undemocratic and highly questionable voting processes. Our legal advisers have stated that they believe all bondholder restructuring outcomes are unlikely to be bind many classes of bondholders.

Why now ? Because the UK Government’s moratorium on the filing of winding up petitions ends on 30th September 2021. There is a rush to force through changes to Bond Instruments before bondholders can take recovery action against the companies. The FRE PLC vote is due to take place on 28th September 2021.