By Chris Lang
A REDD-Monitor reader, let’s call him Andrew, recently wrote asking for advice:
I was contacted by a company called Chloride Eastern Ltd yesterday saying they could sell my VERs by re-formatting them to European Emissions at a cost of £1 per unit and this would then sell for about £21.93 per unit. I have received many similar offers in the past but upon your advice have rejected them. In this case they are more transparent and appear on face value to be OK. They advised me to contact the Carbon Registry (tel. no. 01164105003), which I did and spoke to Colin Fisher who appeared helpful. Today I have tried to find an address and telephone no. for the Registry to no avail. I am still very sceptical. The trading address of Chloride Eastern is: Ensign House, 17 Admirals Way, Isle Of Dogs, London E14 9XQ, tel. no. 0800 009 6490. I would be grateful for your advice.
I wrote back to tell Andrew that he was right to be sceptical. I asked him to report the companies to Action Fraud and the Financial Conduct Authority. It’s a recovery room scam.
Here are the red flags:
The person claiming to be from Chloride Eastern, contacted Andrew out of the blue. Since January 2019, cold calling about pensions has been illegal in the UK. But this reveals a massive loophole in the UK ban on cold calling. The scammers did not ask Andrew about his pension. They contacted him about the carbon credits that he had been scammed into buying several years ago.
Clearly the cold calling ban urgently needs to be expanded to cover all cold calls – including emails, text messages, and so on.
When scammers have fraudulently sold an investment, the scam does not stop. An unfortunate quirk in human nature means that if you’ve been scammed once, you are more likely to be scammed again, because you become more trusting rather than less.
Scammers collect the names and details of people who have been scammed. If you are the victim of a scam, your name and contact details will be on a “sucker list”. Boiler room scammers trade these sucker lists.
Andrew has been contacted several times by companies claiming they can sell his carbon credits. They are all scams. This case is no different.
There is no mechanism for “re-formatting” voluntary carbon credits (VERs) into EU Allowances. The boiler rooms that sold carbon credits bought them for as little as £0.50 and sold them for as much as they could get. The scammers managed to sell carbon credits at a mark up of anywhere between 80% and 400%.
There is little doubt that “Chloride Eastern” will ask for the £1 per credit as an advance fee. And there is even less doubt that if Andrew handed over any money to these fraudsters, he would never see it again. “Chloride Eastern” has produced a graphic explaining “How to sell your Carbon Credits”. In it “Chloride Eastern” explains that the cost is anywhere between £1 and £7. The scammers also promise that, “For all personal investors these costs will be refunded within 3 Working days of your sale being completed.” That is just a lie.
The graphic also reveals that the source of the carbon credits was Eco-Synergies Ltd – a company that was at the centre of a £19 million scam that was shut down in the public interest in 2014.
The address that the scammers gave Andrew for “Chloride Eastern” is the address of a company that offers virtual offices and mail forwarding services. Turning up at that address would not help find who is behind this recovery room scam. Almost 700 companies are registered at this address, and many of them are in liquidation, administration, or dissolved.
A company called Chloride Eastern Limited exists. The company was registered in the UK in 1937. In the financial year 2019, Chloride Eastern made a profit of £13.6 million. It’s the major shareholder in the Indian battery company Exide. But no one from Chloride Eastern contacted Andrew. The person who contacted Andrew was just pretending to be from Chloride Eastern.
A search for “Chloride Eastern Limited” reveals that Google is inadvertently helping the scammers:
The real Chloride Eastern Limited is registered at 62 Wilson Street, London. It’s the office of an accounting firm called RPG Crouch Chapman LLP, which also has nothing to do with this scam. But Google tells us the “someone just added” Chloride Eastern as an “investment service” with the address 62 Wilson Street.
Scrolling down gives a link to the review site Yell.com, complete with four fake reviews of the fake “Chloride Eastern” scammers. None of the four reviewers has ever reviewed anything else on Yell.com, and all of them registered with Yell.com just before leaving a review of “Chloride Eastern”.
The fake “Chloride Eastern” asked Andrew to phone the “Carbon Registry”, and gave him a phone number: 01164105003. But when he rang this phone number, Andrew did not speak to anyone at the “Carbon Registry” (not least because there’s no such company as the “Carbon Registry”).
The phone number belongs to a company called Cleantech Europe Escrow. On 27 February 2020, the Financial Conduct Authority posted a warning about this company on its website:
Unfortunately, the FCA doesn’t seem to have noticed that the “Cleantech Europe Escrow” it is warning about is a clone of a company that was registered in the UK in September 2005. FCA also presumably failed to warn the owners of Cleantech Europe Escrow about the clone company.
If you are contacted by “Chloride Eastern”, “Cleantech Europe Escrow”, “Carbon Registry” (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.