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Is this a Scam - Part Two Print
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Wednesday, 08 November 2017 10:20

Part One ended with a very smart share certificate arriving in my inbox. It came from that nice man Richard at the Washington based 'Department of Regulators'. 

The share certificate had 'Restricted' status marked on it. To sell them I would need this restriction lifted and Richard from the D of R could help me with that!

The shoe drops..

As you guessed, there was a fee involved to lift the restriction. This is where the 'Advance Fee Fraud' comes in.

Richard called again (and again & again) to explain he would need to operate through a Far East bank's registrars department who would do the legal work involved. Why the Far East? Because the broker who originally sold the shares is now based in Hong Kong.

His next call had some good news. He had found a bank that could do the work. He had tried HSBC but the amount involved was just too small for them. But he had found a Chinese bank, based in Hong Kong who would do the job.

The deal was that they could do the legal work in 30 days for just under $9,000. Alternatively, I could have it done in 5 days for a touch over $12,000. If I was at all concerned about guarantees, Richard assured me he has managed to get many, many investors substantial amounts of money from shares they had forgotten about. If he had any concerns about doing business with a Hong Kong bank he wouldn't be able to look his 4 year old daughter in the eye ever again..etc, etc. (I almost needed the Kleenex at this point).

He then suggested I should contact New York Law Specialists again, who would be able to issue a guarantee that the proceeds of the susbequent share sale would be held in escrow for me whilst the Hong Kong bank did the legals.

Was I the only one to get the scammers call?

I received a good many replies to Part One. They came from those who realised it was a scam immediately, to those who checked with their solicitors, who put them wise, and to those who were taken in and shaken down for thousands.

The cold calls followed much the same script, usually different names/companies/websites but it seems this particular fraud has been running from early 2017 and will probably eventually die away for a new variation to take it's place.

So, just how difficult is it to get a 144 restriction lifted?

Contact the company direct. In my case, US Oil and Gas operate in the US but have offices in Dublin. If you have a genuine share holding, the company will confirm it. If the shares are genuine and restricted it is a straight forward process for the companies transfer agents to lift it for you, read here.

How not to be taken in...

Our problem, as human beings, is that we just love something for nothing, and that's our big weakness. If it sounds to good to be true - it is! Regrettably, we all have those hot buttons, in the right (wrong) circumstances we are all vulnerable to being scammed, just watch an episode or two of Derren Brown on Youtube.

Step one, just put the phone down on any cold call.

Step two, if not taken step one is to request the brokers/Solicitors/regulators liecensing or regstration details - in writing and explain that you never do business over the phone and you will look at their information if mailed.

This is usually the end of the scammers contact. They want to instill urgency and excitement. They want your money quickly, before you have had time to come to realise that they have you on the hook.

 And the real regulators?

I first spoke with ActionFraud here in the UK and the SEC in the US to ask if they would join with me in an attempt to capture contact details and, at the very least, find a way of closing their websites and publicising this specific scam on the various (genuine) regulatory websites.

It seems I was rather naïve in assuming the police or regulators would jump into action!
 
The SEC seem only interested in the big boys by getting whistle blowers tipping off about household name companies. My conversation with Action Fraud, the UK police fraud web site, revealed the process to be typically bureaucratic with my on-line report sent off to another internal agency for checking who may or may not decide to refer it to the police. The process takes quite a time it seems.
 
The fragmented nature of the various agencies seems to  be a scammers charter with no organisation actually having any teeth to remove fraudulent websites or actually close fraudulent bank accounts.
 
To be charitable to the police and regulators, I guess there is so much telephone/internet/email fraud they are just over whelmed and will only put resources into fraud schemes that are very large and easy to identify  the bad guys.
  
Any hope of redress?
 
A very satisfying way would be to scam the scammers, if only! Jeffrey Archer (who did time himself) wrote his first best seller, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less based on that principle.
 
It seems a given that as the various agencies are of little effect in stopping relatively low level fraud then a possible remedy is with the banks who are facilitating the fraud by hosting the fraudsters accounts.
 
 
Proving that a bank did not follow the correct procedures on opening a fraudsters account will be nigh on impossible without police support. However, it may be possible to lodge a complaint directly to the bank accepting fraudlent funds and to the relvant banking regulator.
 
Should later scams become reported using the same bank account then the bank would be guilty of not acting on information received and so a case may well be put together.
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

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