Earlier this week, REDD-Monitor received an email from Brian Smith (name changed). Brian explained that about seven years ago he’d been scammed into buying carbon credits as an investment. Recently, Brian received an email from John Miles at a company called Verified Carbon Solutions. Miles said he was acting as a broker for Kentisbury Trust, a company looking to buy five million carbon credits.
Needless to say, this is yet another in a long list of recovery room scams.
Here’s the e-mail from John Miles (date and time of the email changed):
Date: Thu, 9 May 2019 at 15:23
To: Brian Smith
Subject: Emission Offset Portfolio
Dear Mr Smith,
I am writing in the hope of finding the appropriate person who handles the Emission Offset (Carbon Credits) Investment purchased around 2012.
We have found your name and holding details because you’re listed on the international carbon registry exchange as holding a portfolio of VER emission offsets.
I want to state we not here to buy your offsets directly but the reason we are in touch, we have a very large client, a Swedish Fund, that fund has shown us a letter of intent from the Canadian government to purchase 5 Million Units of emission offsets by the end of June through the regulated compliance market.
We here at Verified Carbon Solutions are working as a 3rd party agent on behalf of Kentisbury Trust AG to put together a corporate block of 5,000,000 VER emission offset units.
Please take a moment to look at our corporate purchasers website for your own due diligence.
We have had great success connecting retail investors with large corporate purchasers. Facilitating the sale of a variety of alternative investments.
We work on a 1.5% commission structure upon completion.
Please contact me via :
Phone: 0016 466520187
I look forward to hearing from you and assisting you in the sale of your carbon credits.
Verified Carbon Solutions
Before looking at the content of the letter, let’s start with a look at the company Verified Carbon Solutions. A search on Open Corporates reveals that a company called Verified Carbon Solutions was registered in the UK in December 2011. But the company was dissolved in April 2014.
The company name, Verified Carbon Solutions, is an obvious copy of Verified Carbon Standard, a not-for-profit organisation that certifies carbon projects as part of the process of generating carbon credits. (In February 2018, VCS changed its name to Verra.)
The “Agreement Form” that John Miles sent to Brian even uses the Verified Carbon Standard logo at the bottom of each page:
On its website, and at the bottom of email messages, Verified Carbon Solution uses a logo taken from a company called Blue World Carbon:
In fact, much of Verified Carbon Solution’s website is taken from Blue World Carbon’s website. For example, Verified Carbon Solution’s website lists three projects:
So, VCS is not a registered company, its name is copied from Verified Carbon Standard, and its website is copied from Blue World Carbon. Not exactly reassuring, is it?
In addition to all that, VCS contacted Brian out of the blue. That’s because the company that originally scammed Brian put his name and contact details on a “sucker list”. Boiler room scammers trade these sucker lists.
That’s how Verified Carbon Solutions got hold of Brian’s contact details, and not because he’s listed on the “international carbon registry exchange”. There is no such thing.
John Miles claims in his email to have seen a “letter of intent from the Canadian government to purchase 5 Million Units of emission offsets by the end of June through the regulated compliance market”.
But Brian was conned into buying VERs, according to the previous sentence in Miles’ email. VER stands for Voluntary Emissions Reduction. There is no way of converting voluntary carbon credits to compliance carbon credits.
The next email from the scammers
As a follow up to the email from Verified Carbon Solutions, Brian received a call from Kentisbury Trust. The caller, who was British but appeared to be ringing from a Swedish phone number, made Brian an offer to buy his carbon credits. He said he would arrange for John Miles at VCS to send him the contract documents.
The next email from John Miles arrived shortly afterwards (date and time of the email changed):
Date: Fri, 17 May 2019 at 11:23
To: Brian Smith
Subject: Emission Offset Portfolio
Good morning Mr Smith,
I have received an email stating the offers Kentisbury Trust AG have put forward for your portfolio.
Please visit their website : www.kentisburytrust.com
( Kentisbury Trust AG do not deal with retail investors directly )
They have presented a direct cash offer of €8.75 per unit.
This is dependent on the units you hold being certified prior to purchase. I can assist you with this.
The second offer is to purchase one class B unit of the Cellubo AB Fund. The value of one class B unit is €15,000,00.
They have presented an offer of €13.00 per unit for the fund option. The fund option requires you to make a payment of €2,000.00 to reach the 1 Class B unit level of €15,000,00.
With this option they also use their own fund managers internally to bulk certify your units free of charge.
The Class B unit is redeemable in June with a 20% profit margin as stated in their contract. With this option your file value €18,000.00 payable in June.
Please find attached all required documents relating to the fund purchase option.
I will speak with you later in the week via telephone to determine how you would like to proceed. Please do not hesitate to contact me should you require any further assistance.
Attached to the email is a Payment Form in the sum of €2,000. That’s the advance fee part of the scam.
John Miles’ second email makes even less sense than the first. He’s asking us to believe that the Canadian government is planning to buy five million carbon credits from Kentisbury Trust, an unknown Swedish company. Kentisbury Trust is in turn using an unknown US company called Verified Carbon Solutions as a broker to collect these carbon credits from retail investors in the UK who were scammed into buying them at inflated prices seven years ago.
These retail investors bought a few thousand carbon credits each. VCS would have to contact hundreds and hundreds of people to get five million carbon credits. And then we’re supposed to believe that the Canadian government is prepared to pay way more for these voluntary carbon credits than the current price for CERs (certified emission reductions), which are available for a price of around €0.22:
The bit about the Cellubo AB Fund seems to be included purely as a way of extracting the advance fee from the mark.
A quick glance at Kentisbury Trust blows away any shred of lingering credibility that this transparently obvious scam might have had.
Kentisbury Trust claims to have “earned an unprecedented reputation in the investment industry for developing and managing private and corporate clients since our inception in 2008.” But the website was only registered (anonymously) May 2018. Kentisbury Trust uses the same Malaysian web-hosting company, Shinjiru Technology, as Verified Carbon Solutions.
A search on Google for “Kentisbury Trust” reveals five results. Such a limited internet presence is odd for a company that claims an “unprecedented reputation” on its website. (And two of the Google results link to a comment on REDD-Monitor in which I point out that Kentisbury Trust is a scam.)
SML & Associates’s website was registered (anonymously) in June 2018. SML uses the same Malaysian web-hosting company, Shinjiru Technology, as Verified Carbon Solutions and Kentisbury Trust.
Both Kentisbury Trust and SML & Associates have a “News” page on their websites, which consists of stories cut and pasted from elsewhere. A story about the price of gold comes from Kitco News, one about oil prices is lifted from Reuters, one about exchange-traded funds is stolen from Forbes, a Brexit story comes from Business Insider, a blockchain story is taken from TechCrunch, and the companies’ advice on retirement funds is from a personal finance website called The Balance.
If you are contacted by Verified Carbon Solutions, Kentisbury Trust, SML & Associates (or any other company that claims to be able to sell the carbon credits that you were scammed into buying as an investment) please report them to Action Fraud, and the Financial Conduct Authority. Do not send the company money under any circumstances.