Scammers turning their back on the carbon credits scam
It's the beginning for the end for carbon credit scams, with fraudsters turning their back on them.
Regular readers will know I have continually warned over the past 18 months against carbon credits sales scams.
About six weeks ago I wrote about Martin, who described himself as a broker in the City of London.
His was a longer, softer-focus sales pitch than most. He stressed “a dedication to excellence” and a guarantee of “trust and integrity”.
And he promised that he would not - unlike competitors – attempt to confuse me. He mentioned his firm's expertise in a number of markets (carbon credits, gold and silver, palm oil plantations) all of which are outside FSA regulation.
This week, he called again. And to my surprise, I largely agreed with the first part of what he said.
Turning their back on carbon credits
“We've stopped trading in the carbon credits market. It's a complete sham. It's very speculative and there is a very high risk of losing money. You are very unlikely to see a return.” So far, I would have only changed that from “very high risk” to “total certainty”.
Martin continued: “The carbon credits market is nonsense. Brokers mark up prices by seven times before they sell to you. We are advising clients to avoid this.”
For some reason, Martin thought that I had personally lost a substantial sum in carbon credit trading (although as I know it is a scam, all I have lost in my time listening to carbon pushers).
He added: “The reality is that carbon credits have left a sour taste. It is a market that is too good to be true. Tony, you'll have to take that one on the chin, you've lost so accept you won't see that money again. As a goodwill gesture, my advice to you is to move into a new market.”
So there we have it. This is a double moment. It firstly marks the end (or at least the beginning of the end) of the carbon credits scam where bits of paper worth pennies were sold for pounds, with the promise of quick and easy fortunes, backed by phoney green rhetoric and false United Nations guarantees. This is similar to the time in mid-2011 when scamsters realised the long-running landbanking game was up and moved seamlessly, overnight, into carbon credits.
Strangely, in our first conversation in October, Martin claimed to be an expert in carbon credits. So where was the warning then? What had changed in those weeks to turn him from his enthusiasm?
But there is a second point here. Because this guy thinks I have thrown away a fortune in carbon trading (as will all who were sadly conned into this nonsense), he is about to share with me a way of getting back my losses and making big bucks on top
The recovery room technique
Martin is using the “recovery room” technique, which is often employed in the world of boiler room stocks. Scamsters often sell a phoney share and then, when it is obviously worthless, call up again pretending to be someone else.
Then they may attempt to sell another (equally worthless) share on the promise it will soar and more than make up for the losses. Or – and this is more sophisticated – they will tell you someone is about to launch a takeover bid at a huge premium. To prepare for that, investors need to “re-register” their shares for a fee. Needless to say, there is no takeover. Why would anyone pay top dollar for garbage?
Martin chose the first option. So what did he try to sell me?
The new carbon credits
You may have guessed this already, but it was “rare earth minerals” which this column first warned against some six months ago in The rare earth scam.
It was the same old stuff – huge demand for metals which few have ever heard of and even fewer can spell, entirely controlled by the Chinese who can force up the price. They are essential in mobile phones, laptops and many other consumer electronic goods. I've heard this so often, I reckon I can write the script.
All I had to do was to invest £10,000 and buy a few lumps of these metals, which would be kept in a bonded warehouse. And if I needed the cash quickly and could not wait the 18-24 months to see the price double or treble, I could sell these elements back to the Chinese.
I am not sure whether you can post dysprosium or yttrium, or what the air freight rules are. But I know for a fact that no one will buy these bits of ore. And I am not sure what his promise of “ludicrous returns” meant. I would not find a total loss a laughing matter.
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