Carbon Offset Consultants is running a recovery room scam.
If you have been scammed into buying carbon credits your contact details are likely to be on a “suckers list”. You will be contacted by companies offering to sell your carbon credits. The catch is that you have to pay a fee upfront. It really doesn’t matter what reason the company gives for the fee – whether it’s insurance, a deposit, a “joining fee”, the cost of converting voluntary to compliance carbon credits – the reality is that it’s a scam. You will not see the money again and the company will not be able to sell your (near worthless) carbon credits.
There’s a simple rule to avoid this type of scam: If a company cold calls you, just put down the phone. No legitimate investment company would cold call potential customers.
Carbon Offset Consultants claims to be based in Tokyo, Japan. That may or may not be true. The Open Corporates database doesn’t include any companies in Japan. And the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry’s company search site is in Japanese. In any case, if they ring you it’s largely irrelevant where the company actually is. Just put the phone down.
The company’s gives its address as 1-24-1, Esteck Joho building,
Nishinjuku, Shinjuku-Ku, Tokyo. While I’m sure that’s a great place to have an office (maybe even with a view of Mount Fuji) the building is a 28-storey office building and the company gives neither an office number nor a floor number.
The company’s website was registered in December 2009, by someone calling themselves Jiang Lihong. According to Carbon Offset Consultants’ website he was “appointed Chief Executive Officer for Carbon Offset Consultants on May 1, 2009”. There’s a photograph of him on the company website. Except that it’s not. A search on google images reveals that it’s actually a photograph of John L. Gokongwei, Jr. In 2013, Forbes listed Gokongwei as the fifth richest person in the Philippines, with a net worth of US$3.4 billion.
It’s difficult to trust a company that uses a photograph of someone else as the company CEO. Perhaps more worrying is that a search on Google for “Jiang Lihong” and “carbon” reveals no previous experience in carbon trading.
The other photographs on the company’s website of the Carbon Offset Consultants team are also suspicious. The photograph of “Steven McKnight” was taken by a photographer called Rob Wilson. (The same photograph appears on the website of another company called Carson Fitch, where he’s goes under the name of Rob Marshall.)
Rob Wilson also took the photograph of “James Brooke”.
Rob Wilson has confirmed to REDD-Monitor that these photographs are not of anyone called Steven and James who work in a Tokyo-based company selling carbon credits.
The photograph of “Mark Ryan” was taken by Craig Williams of Awesome Headshots Photography Studios.
The photograph of “David Carter” was taken by a photographer called Dan Splaine and is actually of someone called Jack Penkala. David Carter’s made up experience on Carbon Offset Consultants’ website is colourful. It includes a spell at The Nature Conservancy, the World Bank and an (un-named) NGO that he founded in Africa.
On its website, Carbon Offset Consultants claims that,
“Businesses worldwide chose our services to help to decrease or negate their carbon footprint, in an efficient and cost effective manner.”
But not a single name of a company that uses Carbon Offset Consultants’ services is listed on the website. Hardly reassuring.
One sentence on Carbon Offset Consultants website is true. It’s written in capitals and in bold text:
The statement is presumably there to reassure people that Carbon Offset Consultants do not sell carbon credits as investments. But Carbon Offset Consultants describes its business as providing a service to companies that want to reduce and offset their emissions. In that case, why would the company’s website include this statement, which is aimed at retail investors?
If someone cold calls you from Carbon Offset Consultants with offers to sell your carbon credits, just put the phone down. And if you’re in the UK, I’d suggest contacting Financial Conduct Authority via their consumer helpline. Also report them to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040 or via the website.