Watch out for this investment scam
Agnelli Group offers Tony Levene an 'exciting' investment opportunity...
If you're Italian, the name Agnelli needs no introduction. It's the family that owns a huge chunk of Fiat. It's so rich, it makes Midas jealous.
And now Agnelli will be better known in the UK as it teams up with Rupert Murdoch to buy Formula 1.
So with billions in the bank, why is something called Agnelli Group phoning me? This is agnelligroup.com, from Milan (no surprise), but also an address in Osaka, Japan. The website is registered in Tokyo. It has no relationship whatsoever to any other firm of a similar name.
I was phoned by a Mark Roberts whose conversation was eerily reminiscent of so many. It started with:
“We deal with information primarily for institutions worldwide but also for selected private clients.” He could not tell me why I was “selected”.
He continued: “We release several recommendations to institutions but they don't always act on our advice. We don't have a crystal ball but the ideas come from our analysts and are too complex for me to understand. I expect to be given the green light on releasing information on a company we have been looking at for some time. We would hope to secure you as a private client – the first impression is important.”
By now, I am confused. Do I, as a private client, get the droppings from the institutions or the prime cuts? And if Roberts can't understand, why should I?
But to show his firm's top class research credentials, he told me about a Chinese computer games firm quoted on US hi tech market Nasdaq. Agnelli clients were told to buy into it at $5.50 a share pre-flotation in January 2009, it went up to $16 three months later and was $30 a share by June when Agnelli told holders to sell. The company was involved with Chengdu which Roberts said was a Chinese version of Warcraft.
The ticker symbol of this wonder stock is CYAU. The only problem is that I can't find it on Nasdaq or any other exchange. Chengdu is a city in Sichuan province which is at the centre of the Chinese computer games industry with many companies there.
But it helped Roberts appeal to my “greed”. He said: “Wouldn't you like an investment that grew like that? If you had invested £5,000 you would have walked away less than six months later with nearly £30,000 tax free.”
Then Roberts cautioned me: “We are not a charity. There is a 1% charge on buying the shares and 1% when you sell – it is levied by the company and given back by us.” I must admit that I did not understand this novel fees concept.
But he said that was like the “privatisations of BT and British Gas” as I would deal through his investor relations department (another novel idea) and “cut out the middle man”.
Roberts kept saying “fantastic” throughout the 17 minute conversation – perhaps a subconscious version of acknowledging it was a fantasy.
Finally, Roberts decided that as I was susceptible and could afford the minimum entry level of £5,000 to £20,000, he would “add me to the list of individuals who will soon get details of a “very exciting opportunity in the energy sector”.
I got an email. It's here in full as it gives such a good flavour of the website.
On behalf of Agnelli Group, may I thank you for your interest in our company and our services.
It is my pleasure to introduce Agnelli Group and provide you with details of our private client services. We invite you to capitalise on our research expertise, market experience and investment insight to help you achieve your investment goals.
At Agnelli Group we specialise in identifying growth companies uniquely positioned to capitalise on their dominant position within their emerging market sector. We conduct extensive analytical work into dynamic and under monitored companies, providing private clients with an exceptional opportunity to get involved at low levels enabling them to maximise the return on their investments.
Our investment strategy is to isolate the market leader within a sector where product innovation is coupled with rapidly increasing demand in the marketplace. We focus on companies which afford our institutional and private clients the opportunity to invest ahead of the market, due to low awareness of the profit potential in these companies.
If your goal as an investor is to continuously improve your investment's performance and increase your profit ratio, you should look to invest in industries and companies with high growth potential and innovative products, solutions or services. Agnelli Group is ideally positioned to help you identify and invest in companies that are perfectly poised for growth.
Our private client team are proud of our strong client relationships based on long-term investment success and I am looking forward to speaking with you in more detail about how Agnelli Group can help you achieve your investment goals.
In the meantime you may wish to visit our company website, where you will find further information regarding Agnelli Group and our services:
Should you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me, otherwise I will contact you once a suitable opportunity arises.
Senior Corporate Consultant
Head Office Milano
Via San Maurilio 9
Telephone: +39 02 4438 6300
FAX: + 39 02 4438 6278
16F Umeda Diamond Building
1-10 Umeda, Kita-ku,
I'm still waiting for details of the very exciting opportunity. I'll let you know when or if!
Meanwhile, follow me on twitter at @tonylevene1