Carbon credit scammers

Around 2010 this firm scammed many people out of their hard earned money. They teamed up with  several other scam firms like 360 Invest Group to sell voluntary carbon credits at inflated prices for a big profit for themselves. They claimed that investors could re-sell the credits in about a year for a lot more. This was not true as there is no way to re-sell them. They also joined forces with a dodgy firm of solicitors to make the whole scheme appear lawful.

After about 18 months investors were contacted by a different firm, Alternative Markets. They said that the initial ‘exit plan’ had failed and that to get a profit would require a new investment to ‘convert’ the VER credits to a different sort that could be re-sold. 360 Invest Group and the other sales firms disappeared. Many investors fell for this second scam and of course Alternative Markets disappeared a short while later.

Previous investors continued to be contacted by many other ‘firms’ offering other exit plans of different sorts and legal help for big up front fees.

The original solicitors who prepared the sales contracts (for a fee) were penalized heavily after an investigation.

To this day investors have lost all of their money on this.

 

The general case

You may be looking to invest and start out by using the internet to find something to put money into.

The website will appear legit, at first. You can usually see pictures of the people running it and find the company address and phone numbers. They may appear to have offices all over the world.

You may then call them by phone or make an email inquiry. They would then call you by phone.  The sales people will be charming and have a good answer for all of your questions. There will be legal documentation making you feel safe about the investment. You can talk for hours with them and take many weeks over your decision. They won’t pressure you, to start with.

Here is where it starts to go wrong for you and right for them.

You decide to invest. You send some money. Oh oh!

A short while later they contact you saying something like ‘You made a good decision coming aboard with us, the price is going up. We have a limited amount of (some investment product) left and will sell out very soon. How about a second investment of £x minimum?’

You might re-invest.

If you start to doubt the salesman he will quickly become aggressive and may threaten you with legal action. He won’t speak to you again. He may swear and be rude.

If you invest then a few days later they contact you again, and again etc.

By now you are in ‘big’ with them.

Then it goes quiet for a long time, no replies to phone calls nor emails. You may even decide to visit their ‘office’. Then you may discover they were never there.

You will then get other firms calling you, several times a day, with other investments that you have not heard of. You might fall for these also.

Then there will be the ‘rescuer’ – another firm you’ve never heard of claiming to know all about the initial investment firm, funny how they know your details. They tell you how they plan to get your money back plus profit for an upfront fee – a transfer fee, a registration fee or some other made up name. They also disappear with your money.

So the whole thing falls apart leaving you with nothing.

 

How to spot an investment scam

The website – check out any images with tineye.com, you may find that the salesman pictured is not who they claim to be.

Is the address a virtual office? It may just be used to redirect phone calls/emails to a different country where the laws of your country do not apply. Try visiting it and don’t be fooled into going to a meeting room that is separate from their true office.

How long has the website been running? Check it out at archive.org.

Do you really understand the investment product?

Do you know how to buy and sell it?

Is the market liquid or not?

Don’t be pressured into an investment decision, take all the time you need. There is never any rush to get into an investment no matter what they say.

Don’t fall for re-investing, put a limit on how much you put in and stick to it.

If it sounds like it can’t fail then it can and will fail.

There are no friends in investing even if the sales person seems to be.

Don’t get put on a ‘sucker’ list – once you fall for a scam your details will be sold to other scammers who will contact you.

Solicitors can also be scammers, beware!