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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?

Also tired of scams says:
18 June 2019

Another one from James and Jenkins asking to buy my Galliford Try shares which I sold about 7 years ago. I read some of the comments off here to the fella, who was was being very polite in his defence, before telling him to take me off the database (good luck with that) and hanging up. He was also speaking English with an Indian accent.

David Collins says:
18 June 2019

There certainly appears to be scam using the James and Jenkins name, where they have done a trawl of the shareholders register and then phone you up saying a private client wants to buy your shares for quite significantly more than the stock market price.

This scam might be targetting people who have already sold their shares or had them compulsory purchased. The share prices they offer are unrealistic and I think the scammers are playing on people’s greed thinking they might get money for nothing. The victims just have to hand over some sort of arrangers fee…………..

Durga Mistry says:
27 June 2019

Has anyone had a call from a company call stepsworth Consulting group calling from the USA saying there’s been a hostile takeover of a private share company which has gone into liquidation asking you to sign a non disclosure form and asking you to put a deposit to assure your sale also try to take £4,000 from me but luckily it didn’t go through also gave me details of how to transfer the cash into a bank in Indonesia any more details please reply the funny thing is they keep calling me Asil what should I do

Gary says:
28 June 2019

I had a call like this yesterday at approx 4pm, Chris Turner claiming to be from Brown and Berrick informed me they wished to buy my shares for £6 to £14 depending, low and behold he phoned me again at 6pm and left an answerphone message, “had I received their email” and I had to sign a non disclosure legal document ,in both cases they do not leave a phone number or contact details 1471 brings no phone number, they had left another message this morning “had I received the email from them?” the answer is no .Perhaps I gave them the wrong email address, oh silly me.

Emil says:
9 July 2019

I have just had a call from Mr Julian Pedersen (again English with Indian Accent) claiming to be from Delmer Consulting Group in New York, saying they were acting for a private client in a hostile bid offering between £6-12/share and wanting me to sign a non-disclosure agreement which arrived very rapidly by email. He also said I needed to act quickly as they already had 40% holding committed from Institutional Investors and only needed to get to 51%. On reading the above I have emailed them saying I am not proceeding as they are not registered in the UK with FCA.

Gary M says:
15 July 2019

I’ve been called twice now by different people on different occasions. I no longer have any shares in the company concerned, and the company concerned is no longer a plc as it was taken over by another company a few years ago, so there are no shares to have. I checked out the website of the first company. It looked very impressive. It had been representing satisfied customers for over twenty years, apparently. Then I checked the domain name registration. The website had been set up only two weeks earlier!