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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?

Comments
stonefish says:
17 October 2021

I was called by Glassman Consultants, LLC http://glassmanconsultants.com/ to tell me their client wanted to mount a hostile takeover of a company I had shares in. They were prepared to offer me above market value for my shares. I was asked to send back a non-disclosure agreement and after they received it they would tell me how many shares I owned, I was then later told me my shares had been involved in a 5 for 1 multiplication.

Then I was told I would have to take out an indemnity insurance policy and send them money at which point it started to appear to be a scam.

I called the share registrar for the company I supposedly held shares in and they confirmed I was not a shareholder.

The Glassman Consultants website was poorly designed and worded and only went live a month before.

This is a SCAM do not be suckered into sending any money to “Glassman Consultants, LLC “

I have had three phone calls from a lady giving her company name as Greenhill International LLC in New York informing me that my 7 basically worthless British Energy Shares have become 3267 script shares and offering to buy them from me for between £12 and £24 each in order that their client can make a hostile takeover bid for EDF the french energy company. I believe they will call again soon asking me to sell the shares as well as asking me to pay for an insurance bond. Needless to say I will not be having anymore conversations with these people.

Very similar to others. Cold call from New York based intermediary, hostile takeover of major international UK company, want my holding at good price (but only £42-£53 compared with current value £39), non-disclosure, need to act fast, I would be put on priority list, emailed NDA for me to sign and send back ASAP, that would go to their legal dept who would presumably want some £££s.
I received NDA which is still languishing in my inbox. All this for my ONE share, really acquisition by stealth!!
Takeover was for Unilever and intermediary Clarkston Corporate Partners based in Manhatton USA.

Yes, Clarkston were after me for a load of (low value) shares for, I’m guessing, that same UK company. Terribly nice fellow on the phone – but why would they send a NDA as first step? Seemed odd, hence my web search today.

Another one – got cold called last night from http://greencoreconsultinggrp.com
The s****y website is a dead giveaway.

I was prepared the offer to buy my shares seemed real but not when I was informed that instead of my 114 shares, I was actually holding a Forward Stock Split of 45 x 114 shares = 5130 shares. Of course as soon as I was asked to buy Indemnity Insurance I could see this was a Scam. I said No Thanks and that I would rather keep my 114 shares than pay any money to anyone! My loss? I don’t think so.

KEN JONES says:
19 November 2021

In the same vein as previous posts……..in a nutshell….sweet talking girl rings from New York ( maybe ) takes up a very friendly relationship with you……. advises that I’ve been awarded Incentive shares relating to a hostile takeover of a company I once had a few shares in…. sign a NDA …….ratio of 4:1 for the Incentive shares given…a price significantly above the current share price was offered for the purchase of my shares…have to be quick to take advantage of this offer…….need to pay over £4000 for the ‘Vendor’ insurance bond …transfer agent involvement etc ,etc……….the names of the companies to be wary of are Southlane Consulting Group LLC and Green Medal International Transfer…..Both have very professional, plausible web sites. Have nothing to do with them .

My recommendation is, of course, not to deal with these companies. You can see how implausible the websites used by these scammers are, by picking a choice phrase and doing a Google search.

… endowing patrons with consummate echelons of data concerning transaction multiples …

Who speaks like that? Certainly not a professional New York financial consultant.

And the Google search finds a matching boilerplate website “Your company”, ready for the next scammer to copy and paste.

Just pathetic.

Steve Read says:
24 November 2021

The one to add to your list that follows the exact same pattern is Southlane Consulting Group LLC and Wingfield Corporate Partners LLC. They were trying to get me to pay an insurance bond of about £4000 for a share sale of £32k on shares I paid 1/8th of that price for. I knew it was a scam from the off but was quite happy to waste as much of their time as possible as that’s let’s people they can actually convince to part with their money. Starts off with a non disclosure agreements and then lots of waffle waffle waffle trying to bamboozle an ex financial services worker with nonsensical financial jargon terms……very entertaining. I’m not sure what we can effectively do here rather than just send out a generic prayer that they don’t manage to convince anyone to pay the bond and they give up.

aly coops says:
29 November 2021

29/11/2021 had this today,was concerned they new name of company and details to start conversation,dont be fooled.