Financial Advisors Online is a company offering an exit strategy for people who were scammed into buying carbon credits as investments. Needless to say, for an upfront payment. And, needless to say, Financial Advisors Online is running a recovery room scam.
The recovery room part of the carbon credits scam involves offers to sell your carbon credits (at some point in the future) and in return for a payment (payable in advance). There are variations on this part of the scam, the payment, for example, may be described as a “deposit”, a “commission”, a “handling fee”, “insurance” or in the case of Financial Advisors Online as a “Fixed Tender Security Cost”. It doesn’t matter what the company calls itself, or how convincing, polite and friendly the salesperson on the end of the phone sounds. No reputable company would cold call you. And if it sounds too good to be true, it is.
Financial Advisors Online has appeared several times in the comments following a post on REDD-Monitor about MH Carbon. In each case the company cold called people and claimed to be able to sell their carbon credits.
So let’s try to find out who is behind this company. The first problem is that a google search for the company name brings up lots of results that are nothing to do with this company, but are about financial advisers who provide information online.
A search on Open Corporates reveals no record of a company called Financial Advisors Online:
There’s a discussion on whocallsme.com by people who have been cold called by Financial Advisors Online. A comment from “Moirman” could be applied to anyone who cold calls you with financial advice. “Moirman” suggests telling Financial Advisors Online to “foxtrot oscar”.
There’s a discussion on lovemoney.com started by someone calling themselves “afc13”, who was cold called by Financial Advisors Online:
They don’t ask you to make another investment but there is what they call an insurance charge of 55p per credit, which is paid upfront into a holding account in a UK bank and then refunded when the sale goes through, supposedly on 18 December. They say this is their eighth sale of carbon credits and their next one is in February.
Financial Advisors Online referred “afc13” to scamadvisors.com, which gives Financial Advisors Online’s website a “High Trust Rating”. Sensibly, scamadvisors.com points out that, “Our rating is guide. Normal common sense needs to prevail.”
UPDATE – 20 December 2013: scamadvisors has done a “manual review” of Financial Advisors Online and now rates it as “Low Trust Rating”:
Financial Advisors Online’s website is registered anonymously. If you don’t know who you’re giving your money to, it may be a good idea to keep hold of it.
An “About Us” page on the company’s website tells us nothing useful about the company such as the names of the company’s directors and their previous experience, for example. Instead we learn that,
Financial Advisors Online were [sic] created to cater for all aspects of the commodities market and have been actively assisting investors reach their fiscal goals for over 10 years.
With a diverse and extensive client base of Blue Chip companies and SME’s [sic], rapidly expanding across Europe, Financial Advisors Online are uniquely positioned to broker purchases within the Gold, Rare Earth Metals, Bio –Fuels and Carbon Offset markets.
Financial Advisors Online gives an address on its website: Rue Abbe Cuypers 3, Brussells [sic], Belgium, 1040. The Belgian regulator, the Financial Services and Markets Authority, has put out a warning about Financial Advisors Online. FSMA points out that the company is not registered in Belgium and is not allowed to provide investment services in or from Belgium. In addition,
The FSMA strongly advises against responding to any offer of financial services made by Financial Advisors Online and against transferring money to any account number this firm might mention.
If anyone is still tempted to give money to Financial Advisors Online (today’s top tip: don’t), here’s a contract from Financial Advisors Online. It’s interesting to note that although the company has an address in Brussels, it asks for payments to be made to a bank in the UK.
TERMS OF SALE
- Financial Advisors Online agree to represent the SELLER on the agreed sale of 2,500 Carbon Offsets
- The Date of proposed sale Wednesday 18th December 2013
- The Fixed Tender Offset cost. (Insurance) £0.55 pence
- Total Insurance cost £1,375 GBP
- Price per Carbon Offset £9.25 pence
- Total gross amount to be paid to the SELLER £24,500 GBP
There are no fees or commissions to be paid by the SELLER to Financial Advisors Online from the above sale.
Fixed Tender Security Cost is taken against the amount of Offset units per holding and is fixed at £0.55 per offset.
Payments are made to Financial Advisors Online nominated UK Bank.
The SELLER understands that any and all transfer costs/fees incurred by the SELLERS bank, are to be undertaken by the SELLER. It is the SELLERS responsibility to provide clear, accurate details of their receiving bank or currency Exchange Company.
Should the SELLER require payment in a currency other than Sterling Pounds, Financial Advisors Online will require written confirmation by no later than the agreed date of sale. The SELLER understands that this contract is fully binding from the date of signature. This contract must be returned to Financial Advisors Online signed and dated within 48hrs of receipt.
- In the event of delays or cancellation to the agreed contracted sale date herein and where the fault lies with the BUYER (unforeseen acts, insolvency, acts of terrorism) and not Financial Advisors Online, FAOL will guarantee to sell the SELLER’s position within 90 days at no less than the price indicated herein.
- In the event of delays or cancellation to the agreed date of sale and a revised date is not achieved (clause 1) FAOL guarantee to pay the SELLER back a full refund of their Fixed Tender security cost illustrated within the contract plus an additional 5% fee Fixed Tender security cost. This is applicable in the event the SELLER does not want FAOL to provide an alternative sale date as stated in (clause 1).
- The agreed sale date is not subject to any currency fluctuation and contracted sale price is non-negotiable.
- FAOL reserves the right to refuse acceptance of a contract should any Anti Money Laundering laws (AML) fail to be adhered to.
- In the event of the SELLER cancellations, insolvency, unforeseen circumstances leading to the SELLER not proceeding with the contracted sale or death the Fixed Tender security cost is held with FAOL and used towards the BUYER’s shortfall. Subsequently, the SELLER receives no proceeds from the sale. In this instance, the Offset’s remain in terms of full ownership, with the SELLER.
FINANCIAL ADVISORS ONLINE WILL BE LEGALLY BOUND TO THE TERMS AND CLAUSES OF THE CONTRACT UPON RECEIPT OF ALL RELEVANT SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS AND ANY OR ALL COSTS OR FEES ASSOCIATED.
Signed Signed: ……………………………… Derek Bell, Chief Compliance Officer Date: 11th December 2013 Date: ………………………………
- BUYER: refers to the Offsetter and/or their representatives who require to purchase.
- SELLER: refers to the registered owner of the Offsets.
- FAOL: Financial Advisors Online.
- CER: Certified Emission Reductions.
- EUA: European Unit Allowances.
- VER: Voluntary Emission Reductions.
- CRT: Climate Reserve Tonne.