/ Money

Scam watch: the share-buying phone scam

Telephone with scamwatch email

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.

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?

Comments

We just had a version of this from Huddleson Advisors LLC http://www.huddlesonadvisors.com/ wanting to buy ARM Holdings shares.

Grateful to this website and conversation for confirming what smelt off…

Nick says:
23 April 2019

I’ve just received a similar call to that of Peter G. The caller purported to be from a New York finance company Walton Securities llc regarding the acquisition of old Blacks Leisure shares from shareholders of this delisted uk company in order to allow a third party to obtain the assets of that company. They are asking for insurance money up-front but the cash would be safe as it would be in a bonded escrow account.
They’ll be sending me the contracts to sign. Obviously a scam but beware.
Nick
Essex

Lisa says:
26 April 2019

My Mum has been contacted by “Blackdale Consultancy” in New York. Similar story of a hostile takeover. Paperwork all looked very authentic however website doesn’t exist, address is a residential block, always a restricted number calling. They wanted 4k to be paid into a Philippine bank before everything went through. Took the phone call that my mum was waiting for and said I knew it was a scam and the line what dead. Very convincing on the surface.

Sue says:
29 April 2019

I had a call from ‘Huddleson Advisors LLC’ claiming that they are seeking to buy shares in a company that is now de-listed and not trading. To begin with she seemed quite genuine, I listened and gave nothing away. When I asked some probing questions, it was clear the lady was reading from a script, and even though she told me she was a lawyer, she could not answer some relatively straightforward questions. When I told her I would need to go and do my own research to see if these old shares are tradable, her tone changed and she accused me of missing an opportunity, so I asked her directly if this was indeed a scam. Her response was to tell me that she will send my name to her legal department and her firm will sue me! (Not entirely sure on what grounds!!)
I have blocked the number and urge others to be wary if they get a similar approach.

R Bisset says:
1 May 2019

Just been contacted by a Phillipino sounding outfit wanting to buy my late fathers shares in Whitbread – total scam on behalf of a mystery client mounting a hostile takeover – beware!

Patricia Rigby says:
2 May 2019

I have taken several calls from a company called Bradford and Feldman, I even got to the contract stages and all appeared very professional and received paperwork accordingly. I cannot believe how believable these people are, I was totally taken in by them. Thankfully I had the sense to check on the internet as its always the case when something appears to be too good to be true, it usually is. The trigger for me was that she stated that the shares were trading at a much higher value on the market than they actually are so that raised my suspicions along with the £4K bond that they wanted upfront (which had increased by £2K over a few days). I even had to sign a non-disclosure statement to say I would not discuss the details with anyone as it is a hostile takeover. She was a Filipino sounding woman who has obviously been doing this for years as she has the whole banter down to a fine art.

Doug says:
7 May 2019

I’ve been contacted several times over the years by people running this fraud. They’re uisually Russians, living in the US. I once recorded the conversations I had with them, and sent them, plus the documents they sent me in the post, to the FBI in New York. About three months later I was contacted by an FBI agent — apparently, it takes that long for them to get permission to contact someone in the UK. Completely useless, I’m sorry to say. Nothing like the FBI as portrayed on American television. Scammers run rings around these people.
Don’t both contacting (In)Action Fraud in the UK either. You’ll waste precious time filling out an inane online survey about how your feelings have been hurt by this, etc. … obviously a survey written by a moron. And then they won’t do anything. It’s just a ‘jobs for the boys’ operation, interested only in collecting statistics and telling you not to give your money away to strangers.

david morris says:
7 May 2019

Thank you. Had several calls all sounding very good but it is the same scam as described above.
Despicable!

Steve Kumar says:
9 May 2019

Ive just recieved yesterday a phone call from the scammers here is the follow up email. I had shares in Densitron which has now been taken over in 2015. They trawl through the public register so it could be any company you have shares in.

With reference to your recent conversation with Acquisition Department, we are attaching the standard Non-Disclosure Agreement, which confirms that you will not disclose confidential information about the acquisition of Densitron Technologies PLC to other parties.

Our Legal Department will clarify your holdings and if you are not fully sure as to how many shares you own or if the name of the company has changed, we will re-confirm your holdings on your behalf.

Sincerely yours,
Administration Department
Bradford and Feldman Consultancy LLC

http://www.bradfordandfeldman.com

Key mistakes.
The email will come from Admin.
The Domain Bradfordand feldman.com was created 2months ago.

They will try to correct but this is a active scam as of 09/05/2019

[This comment has been edited to remove personal information. Community guidelines: https://conversation.which.co.uk/commenting-guidelines ]

COLIN BARKER says:
15 May 2019

Identical scenario from Kelly Jackson at Stepsworth Consultancy

D Healey says:
17 May 2019

I too have been a target from Bradford and Feldman Consultancy LLC – it really does sound so plauseible. Emailed copies of share certificates and signed the non-disclosure agreement. It was when I was told about the ‘security deposit’ that the alarm bells started to ring.
I asked a friend in the US to check it for me, who has sent it to friend of hers, who is a money manager.
Hopefully it will be reported to the right place in the USA.

Paul says:
14 May 2019

Identical call this week from Collier Consultants LLC.

Caroline says:
16 May 2019

My parents also received calls from Collier Consulting this week re Kingfisher shares

Gordon Gray says:
18 May 2019

I wish I had seen this 2 months ago. I feel so stupid trying to make a quick profit on shares and loosing thousands.
Beware wexner and Dekker in new York.

Sally Carter says:
22 May 2019

22/05/19 – Had a call from Sarah Hartland? Sounds like an English name but caller had an accent. Claimed to be from J & J Consultancy or similar. Wanted to talk to me about my Logica shares which I sold over five years ago. It was a compulsory purchase by the majority shareholder. The caller claimed I was awarded scrip shares that someone now wanted to buy. I’ve not had anything sent to me about scrip shares since the shares were sold. I was asked for an email / fax number in order to send me a confidentiality agreement to sign. As soon as I commented that the information could be sent in writing, she hung up.