My phonecall with a sharedealing scammer
Tony Levene has been offered some exclusive shares offering incredible returns. Is it too good to be true?
Monica calls me excitedly from Frankfurt. She wants me to buy shares in a 3D film and television firm. Its shares had already doubled to €1.25 over the past weeks and – according to her “analysts”, they will soon zoom to €3.50.
This was in May. Monica explained that Avatar and expectations for 3D in the World Cup made it an exciting technology.
To back her share selection, Monica claimed she had information from analysts at the European Central Bank, also in Frankfurt.
I was too polite to say I thought it unlikely, if not impossible, that ECB staff were taking time off solving the Greek debt crisis to investigate a penny stock. But I asked for details of this wunderbar share. Nothing.
More recently, Ruth rang, also selling shares from Frankfurt. She did not know about Monica but discussed the same share, while asking general questions about my wealth and the success of my investment strategy.
She said I had missed my chance to make money on the 3D stock ( quoted on a small Frankfurt exchange, not the main one) but the latest must have share was in cell technology – apparently a way to make the internal combustion car engine greener than wind power.
Ruth sent me details – although as she headed my letter Dear Mr Pahary, I am not sure how exclusive this was to me.
You should always run a mile from any share sold by cold calling. And the technology? It may be real (firms now cold calling with miracle cures for the BP oil spillage are not) but is it or will it be profitable?
A week later, Chris called from the same firm now identified as Man Capital Group. Its website makes impressive but vague claims . He said I had only a few minutes to buy the green company shares before they were “released to hedge fund managers”. He became aggressive when I told him I was not interested.
Still, that did not stop Andrew phoning a few days ago. He wanted to sell me the green shares (surprise! They had not been snapped up by hedge funds ).
“Yes,” I said “but I want details first.
Googling its name only produces other firms with a similar name and even when Andrew gives me the link, there are zero financial details.
“That's because it is a new company,” Andrew explained.
“Well, surely there must be a prospectus,” I replied.
Andrew agreed but said it was only available as a hard copy and he would post me one. Nothing has yet arrived.
I then asked questions.
“Is Man Capital Group authorised by the FSA?” It is not but he suggested it was because it had an office in London. “Where?” I asked.
“I'm not sure but I think it is in Berkeley Square.”
“And who owns Man Capital?” That was easy for him to answer.
“It's the Man Group. It's very large and deals with hedge funds.”
Man Group is a multi-billion FTSE100 quoted company which deals with professional investors including hedge funds.
Man Group tells me: “It has absolutely nothing to do with us. We don't do penny shares, we don't ever cold call – it's against FSA rules even if we wanted to – we don't deal with private investors. It's not the first time an unknown firm has used our name and pretended to be part of us. I am glad lovemoney.com brought this to our attention.”
Oh, and the real Man is not anywhere near Berkeley Square either!