/ 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?

Martin says:
29 October 2019

My parents have had a few calls over that last few days from Tradeburke International Group asking about selling their shares at £8 and then 3 days later saying the price had gone up to £17. They sent a NDA out today asking them to fill in a return. These people are vile, can’t believe they are praying on innocent, valuable people. Please be suspicious and share with family and friends.

Shirley Gill says:
30 October 2019

I have just had a phone call from a John Moore of Tradeburke International group. They have a very plausible website, and phone number. I knew it was a scam as they had wrong information about me but they were asking me to sell shares. They are extremely plausible but nobody genuine would ring on the off chance about selling shares. they are also in breach of data protections.
I am not sure who to report them to.

I reported my experience to the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) and Action Fraud – they will want as much detail as you can give them, including website address and telephone numbers.

Geoff Toon says:
30 October 2019

They are at it again. I have had several calls, claiming to be from a company called Valor Capital Partners – which appears to exist, but does not appear to undertake this type of business. Interestingly, they mentioned exactly the same number of shares – 2048, as a previous email. The latest caller mentioned a bond, which set bells ringing, as you never need to ask the vendor to guarantee anything, as they still have the shares .

I will let them talk, and send the paperwork, which I will pass on to the appropriate authorities

Rona says:
1 November 2019

I have had this call and got a non disclosure form to sign. Is it all a scam then? It was an old address and phone number they had, but I do have shares in the company they cited. Who should I report this to please?

Its certainly a scam Rona –sign nothing report it to Action Fraud –

I have had phone calls over the last few days from Rodenberg Consultancy in New York saying they have a client wanting to buy my shares in Surface Transforms as they need 51% to mount a hostile takeover, shares currently ad .25p but they have offered £11.80 !!!!, usual NDA agreement and will need me to deposit £5000 into an insurance bond .

I asked them what date they were incorporated and where also what is there incorporated number but she then waffles on about she couldn’t give me that information due to confidentiality, I kept saying this has nothing to do with that this is just common knowledge but she wouldn’t budge so I just said ok send me information but I suspect she knows I’m on to them.

Sharon Jones says:
6 November 2019

I have had very similar to my very old parents. the company were ‘allied advisory.com’ in New York. Email was admin@firstalliedadvisory.com……i realised once we started (as above) to talk about insurance and an amount needed to be put in a pot – which would only be lost if we sold shares to someone else during the hostile takeover ….they are VERY plausible. I went to report on FCA but they are more re email scams – mine was all phone calls.

They knew what shares both my parents have – and how they got them (previous employer)

Natalie says:
6 November 2019

Valour Captial rang me a few mins ago. Thanks to whoever set up this webpage.

Simon says:
6 November 2019

Just had a very similar phone call from someone representing Rodenberg, with the same story as Rob above, offering to buy my G4S shares. Wasn’t sure if genuine so I supplied an email address and they have just sent an NDA for me to read and sign.
Again thanks for whoever set this webpage up.

Fred says:
7 November 2019

Same as Rob and Simon. Very persistent in their calling. Rodenberg Consultancy are the scammers. Fortunately my spam filter caught their NDA email.

Rach says:
7 November 2019

My grandmother had the same phone call last night and was offering £8 – 17 a share to do a take over.

I have no idea of shares so he sent.me.a discloussure form to my email address.

Jean Pearson says:
8 November 2019

Me to -I had a call just last evening from a company called Thompson Russeau claiming I had “script shares” with Rio Tinto that their client wanted to buy at “a handsome rate”…. I could find no trace of this company and he wouldn’d give me a web site to view so guess they don’t exist. Nice try, though.

S Bonnor skbonnor@gmail.com says:
Today 16:15

I have just had similar only I had held the shares mentioned, only a few but was sure we got rid of them years ago. It was when an insurance bond was mentioned and not filling in the share bit and sign it. They were the clues it was all a scam.

S. Gansborough says:
Today 20:39

Firstly, I have callers I know listed – their name/‘s show caller ID. If it’s no one I know I don’t answer. If it’s urgent or valid the caller will leave a message.