/ Money

Scam watch: the share-buying phone scam

Well-informed fraudsters are targeting investors in a seemingly sophisticated share scam. Here’s how one Which? member was almost caught out by a share-buying telephone scam.

11/11/2019: Shareholders persistently targeted

We’ve noticed a spike in shareholders persistently being targeted by this scam, which we first reported back in 2014.

Comments such as this one have become a regular occurrence here on Which? Conversation:

A member of the public also got in contact with Which? Money recently when they were phoned out of the blue by a company named ‘Sunburst Consulting Group’.

It knew about some worthless shares they had in a telecoms firm, but told them they were worth £40,000 and that they’d found a private buyer – they even sent a contract for the ‘sale’.

This contract included a non-disclosure agreement and wanted them to buy an ‘insurance bond’ for £3,750.

At this point, they were right to become concerned and break off contact. It seems likely that if they’d paid the ‘bond’, their money would have disappeared, along with the ‘buyer’.

We tried to contact Sunburst Consulting Group via email, but it bounced back.

Scammers often target those who have stakes in defunct firms, or ones that have been taken over.

Any claims that your shares can be purchased for far more than their usual value should immediately raise suspicions. If you need help getting your money back after a scam, visit our guide.

Have you been targeted by a share-buying scam? Continue to let us know and warn others in the comments.

24/11/2014: Original Convo

By Joe Elvin

The Which? member told us: I have been the target of an international telephone share scam involving a fictitious hostile takeover. The caller knew my full name and that I had purchased shares in a certain company back in 2001.

He claimed I had a registered holding of ‘incentive shares’ in this company, credited because I was a long-term shareholder, and that he was representing a client that wished to mount a hostile takeover of this company.

He asked if I would be willing to sell my shares at between £10 and £15 per share, which I said that I would be willing to do.

I was soon contacted by another client who told me that the sale and purchase would proceed via a ‘transfer agent’, but part of the transaction involved an insurance bond by both parties where I would need to put up almost £5,000.

I was already suspicious, but at this point I knew the whole deal was fraudulent.

This was a remarkably sophisticated fraud attempt, involving apparently legitimate companies, with company logos, legitimate telephone numbers, and plausible looking web sites. I would like to prevent anyone becoming a victim.

Our say on investment scams

These companies may have put a bit of effort into appearing legitimate, but anyone who calls you out of the blue about an investment opportunity is almost certainly a fraudster.

These scammers are likely to have obtained most of your details from the shareholders’ register.

Those who want to double-check the legitimacy of a financial company should check if it is listed on the FCA’s Financial Services Register.

Anyone who is contacted by an unregulated firm, as you were, should report the companies involved to the FCA and Action Fraud.

Have you been a victim of this scam or a similar one? Do you have any tips for spotting an unregulated firm?

Tim Todd says:
15 May 2021

Been contacted by Wainrights from Queens, New york. All sounds very plausible and professional but same old story of NDA and hostile takeover and offering unbelievable price for some shares that I bought as penny shares years ago. Told me the same as a previous a contributor here that I must pay over £3900 as insurance bond and I would receive thousands for my old defunct shares. Dont know how they got my share dealing history or my contact details. Watch out for this company.

Currently contact from 2 individuals purportedly working for New York firm Vandenbroucke-Becker Associates LLC. Seeking to purchase my very small holding of Sainsbury shares on behalf of client mounting hostile takeover. Apparently bonus script issue has increased my holding by 2500 – lucky me! Scammers now seeking indemnity bond of c£5000. Vandenbroucke web site looks good but contains no substantial info, almost certainly a fake. Needless to say I shall be terminating contact once I have wasted as much of their time as possible.

Colin Clements says:
26 May 2021

Had a call from Kaiser Corporate Partners last night informing me i had some Script sharesin a penney share company i bought 20+ years ago? They are wanting to pay £12 to £20 pound a share i have no record of for a hostile takeover. They sent the NDF for me to sign, won’t be sending that back.
Has anyone else heard from the company?

Been contacted by Roosevelt Securities LLC offering very good trade for my old British Gas share all sounds good call from New York web site every thing but asked about this insurance money they wanted over £5,000 and never called again.

Roosevelt Securities have contacted me about a “hostile takeover” of a VCT I have invested in. I had to sign a NDA before being given details, but it seems my 10,000 shares quoted at 55p on the London exchange are worth £7 – £15 to the anonymous buyer. All very polite, sympathetic conversations but too good to be true. The performance bond has now bee mentioned ! Buyer pays 70%, seller ( me ! ) only 30%, all fully refundable when the deal goes through ! My £5,500 shareholding could get me £150,000, if I am really stupid !

Michael says:
2 June 2021

Just been called by at home by a man, who sounds American, claiming that a well-known company that I hold shares in is facing a hostile takeover and his organisation has already signed up 41% of the existing share membership consisting of large corporate shareholders. Now they require a further 10% made up of small shareholders. I terminated the conversation at that point. A definite scam attempt.

Yes, Michael. If a company in which you hold shares was the subject of a takeover bid you would have been informed about it by the company and any action would be undertaken formally in correspondence and documentation.

I think the scam is to get the individual to part with a large sum of money as a stake in order to be included in the share purchase at an unrealistically high price for the holding. The target is also required to sign a non-disclosure agreement in order to cover it all up. Needless to say, the deal doesn’t happen, the stake never gets repaid, the supposed profit never materialises, and the NDA, which possibly has some legitimacy, prevents any action with enforceable penalties.

I have had a number of calls about my shareholdings and they have been able to tell me the names of companies and number of shares. I have not confirmed my name and have terminated calls promptly. I do not know whether these were scam calls or people trying to sell me investment advice.

Names, addresses and numbers of shares held are publicly listed by company registrars and obtainable by interested parties for a fee. It is then a matter of joining up the name, address and telephone number – not that difficult. Any such contact used to be done by correspondence and still would be if the approach was genuine. Any contact be phone, text or e-mail is bound to be questionable.

Thanks John. At one time I would have delivered a lecture about not calling people who are registered with the Telephone Preference Service but no longer do so because that would confirm my identity.

I think I would have liked to attend some of your lectures – but not the bacteriological ones.

You might miss the ones about how important bugs are to all of us. There are some rogues that damage their reputation.

It is estimated approximately 30 trillion cells and 39 trillion bacteria make up the human body.
nature.com – Scientists bust myth that our bodies have more bacteria than human cells.

As the Nature article mentions, the number will vary greatly between individuals and was probably never intended to be quoted widely.

There is plenty of dodgy scientific information that is widely quoted. For example, it is often said the the well known bacterium E. coli doubles in number ever 20 minutes. That is as useful as saying that a car travels at 120 mph. In principle it could but in practice it will happen only under certain circumstances and not for long.

Yes, have just had a call from Roosevelt Securities about a bonus share issue that I apparently have, but never got the scrip for. NDA agreement as a gentle step to draw you in. Did some digging. No company registration, no company officers and their website didn’t exist a month ago.

susan warlock says:
8 July 2021

I received a phone call from Rosenfeld Global Management a few days ago asking for my late husband he died 4 years ago. They said they wanted to buy his Vodofone shares I explained i hadn’t even transferred them into my name yet (he only had a few and they weren’t worth much) They still seemed to want to buy them and sent me a NDA form by email. I ignored it but they rang me again today i told them i hadn’t looked at the form they told me to fill it in and email back and leave blank info i didn’t know! They said they would ring me back once i had sent them the form they will have a long wait!! They were very plausible but i smelled a rat and your site has just confirmed my suspicions.

Martin Cridland says:
21 July 2021

Hi, I received a call from Rebecca Gomez at Rosenfelt Global Management advising me of a takeover of Vodafone and wanted me to complete an NDA. Bristles on my neck went into overdrive. Site looks good so people could be fooled. Now waiting for ‘phone calls

Same scam currently calling themselves Rosenfelt Global Management. Great website full of corporate BS….but no location to be found anywhere. They haven’t asked for the insurance bond yet!

Em says:
26 July 2021

Most of that corporate BS has been cloned word-for-word from Dempsey Securities LLC and Beale & Adams Group websites.

Beale Adams Group is listed under a warning on the FCA website: “We believe this firm may be providing financial services or products in the UK without our authorisation.”

Rosenfelt is not listed by the FCA (yet), nor is Dempsey Securities.

None of these companies provide a telephone number, which is odd. Clearly they don’t want to be contacted about any of the multitudinous services they claim to provide. I’m not certain how a US financial services company can have a 300 year history. Even the New York Stock Exchange was only founded in 1792.

Jackie says:
3 August 2021

I too received a call and then an email from Rosenfelt Global Management Security. I completed the NDA on behalf of my father, for shares in a defunct company (Food & Drink Group PLC) that aren’t worth anything. The offer is too good to be true (including unknown added shares for “when the company failed to provide dividends”) and they want just under £5,000, up front, for an insurance bond. I hope the info I’ve already provided them, by completing the NDA, is not compromising (they just have my email, telephone number and copies of the share certs).

Just had a call from Dynamics inc wanting to buy my British Gas/centric a shares. If the get this info of a register then great, because it didn’t know I had any 🤣

sam allworthy says:
26 July 2021

how am i able to help?
been working in a mergers and acquisitions/ boiler room for quite long time.