Yesterday, “Fallguy” left a comment on REDD-Monitor. Fallguy is one of many people in the UK who have been scammed into buying carbon credits as an investment. In his comment, he wrote about a recent phone conversation he had with Brian Carter from Novus Capital Markets. Carter was inviting him to get scammed once again.
Here is Fallguy’s comment in full, followed by some of the red flags that Novus Capital Markets raises:
I was called today by a Brian Carter from Novus Capital Markets concerning my carbon credits. He said that my detils had been passed from “Central Reservations” where details of holdings bought through companies now in liquidation are available to “regulated brokers” for sale and return of proceeds to the investor. He said they would evaluate my holding and then require a returnable payment of 20% of the valuation to cover verification, agency fees, and conversion of my VER and CERs to EUA. On sale of the holding they would charge the buyer 5% and return the proceeds to me along with my 20%. He claimed that EUAs were fetching £7-£15.
I asked for the company FCA number but he gave me “his”, BCX01567, claiming that he had worked at HSBC. On checking the FCA register I found that there is a clone company with the same name.
Can anyone advise on this Central Reservations operation? I guess it could be Central Registrations. I have heard someone from Oakmount use a similar term but have been unable to discover anything about it.
Presumably I have been approached by the clone.
“Novus Capital Markets” cold called Fallguy
Brian Carter cold called Fallguy and told him that he had his details from “Central Reservations”. But there is no such thing as a central reservation or central registration for carbon credits. And no legitimate company would cold call you with financial advice.
The reality is that Carter got Fallguy’s contact details from what the scammers call a sucker list. These are lists of people who have been scammed, with information about who they are, their contact details and what they were scammed into buying. Sucker lists are traded between the scam companies.
If you are cold called, the only safe thing to do is put the phone down.
“Novus Capital Markets” is not a regulated broker
In any case, the FCA put out a warning last month about Novus Capital Markets under the headline “Novus Capital Management (clone of a former authorised firm)”. I’m not sure why the FCA uses the name Novus Capital Management. The warning gives the clone company’s website as novuscapitalmarkets.com.
The clone company Novus Capital Markets is not registered anywhere.
Novus Capital Markets’ website was registered less than two months ago
A search on who.is reveals that novuscapitalmarkets.com was registered on 19 May 2016. The website was registered anonymously.
Here’s a screenshot of the website:
The website gives no information about the company, or who is behind it.
Novus Capital Markets cut and pasted the text on its website from Stephens Inc.
Here are two more screenshots. The first is from Novus Capital Markets “About Us” page. The second is from a US-based financial services firm called Stephens Inc. The only difference in the text is that Novus Capital Markets has replaced the name “Stephens” with “Novus Capital Markets”. (Click on the image for an archived version of Novus Capital Markets’ website.) I’ve informed Stephens about this.
The “50 years of brilliance” is Novus Capital Markets’ own invention. The text on Novus Capital Markets website is taken from Stephens Inc’s website:
The carbon credits sold to retail investors are worthless
Brian Carter told Fallguy that Novus Capital Markets could convert CERs and VERs to EUAs. I’m sure he said this in a confident and convincing tone, and didn’t bother to explain what he was talking about. Had he done so, it would likely have been fictitious.
CERs are Certified Emission Reductions, which are carbon credits issued under the UN Clean Development Mechanism. These are compliance credits that can be used by rich countries to meet the emission targets agreed under the Kyoto Protocol. CERs can be traded on the EU Emissions Trading System. The current price of CERs is $0.39.
VERs are Voluntary Emission Reductions, which are voluntary carbon credits. These are generated outside of the UN system. There are various certification schemes for voluntary carbon credits such as Verified Carbon Standard, Plan Vivo, and The Gold Standard. The average price of VERs in 2015 was $3.8tCO2e. The price of VERs varies, depending on the type of project that generates the credits and how long ago the credits were generated.
EUAs are European Emission Allowances, which are pollution permits that can be traded on the EU Emissions Trading System. The current price of EUAs is €4.58 (considerably less than the £7-£15 that Brian Carter told Fallguy they were worth.)
Unfortunately, the carbon credits that have been sold to retail investors are worthless. Last year, REDD-Monitor published a Guest Post by a carbon trader with 30 years experience market experience and 10 years experience in carbon markets. The post started as follows:
In my professional opinion the credits sold to private individuals in the boiler room cases I have reviewed are worthless, I am not aware of a single individual in my 10 year career within the carbon markets that has sold on, for any economic worth, the VERs purchased from “boiler rooms” as investments.
Novus Capital Markets wants an advanced fee
Novus Capital Markets is running a recovery room scam. Scammers contact people who have already been scammed, and tell them they can get their money back. Here’s how Action Fraud describes this sort of scam:
The person who contacts you will not be who they claim to be, nor will they help you recover the money you’ve already lost.
If you respond to their offer of help, they will ask you for various fees, such as release and administration fees. If you pay these fees, they will keep coming back to you with another fee that has to be paid, before your money can be returned.
If you ask them to take the fees from the money they claim to have recovered, they will give reasons why this isn’t possible. For example, your money is under the control of a court and can only be paid back to you personally.
The fraudsters may also ask you to provide details of your bank account so they can pay your money into it. They will use this information to empty your account.
Novus Capital Markets’ phone number is a dead give away
Novus Capital Markets’ website gives the following phone number: 0207 164 6597. A search for the number takes us to a comment on REDD-Monitor. The number is the same as that used by another scam company: Carter & Carter.
If you have been cold called Novus Capital Markets (or anyone else who claims they can sell your carbon credits or asks for an advance fee, regardless of the story they spin) please contact Action Fraud and the Financial Conduct Authority.