By Chris Lang
On 1 February 2021, REDD-Monitor wrote about a company calling itself “Good Investment Advisors”. The company is a clone firm and is running a recovery room scam – cold calling people who have been scammed into buying carbon credits as investments, with offers to sell them. For an advance fee, of course.
REDD-Monitor wrote to the Financial Conduct Authority
I wrote to the Financial Conduct Authority informing them of the scam as soon as I finished the post. As there isn’t an obvious way that the public can report a clone firm via the FCA website, I wrote to the FCA’s Whistleblowing email address.
On 2 February 2021, I received the following reply from the FCA’s Whistleblowing Team:
We have reviewed your email and determined that your enquiry does not fall within the remit of the FCA Whistleblowing Team. We are in place primarily to receive and manage disclosures of employees / ex-employees of firms within the regulated sector. If we receive information that does not represent this we will refer ownership to the relevant area of the FCA that is resourced and trained to handle the matters in question.
The Whistleblowing Team forwarded my email to the Consumer Queries Team.
REDD-Monitor wrote again to the Financial Conduct Authority
Also on 2 February 2021, someone sent the clone firm Good Investment Advisors’ bank details to REDD-Monitor. I quickly sent the bank details to the FCA and copied the email to Mark Steward, the Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA.
On 27 January 2021, Steward had appeared on Radio 4’s Today Programme, following an FCA press release that warned about clone firm investment scams.
On the Today Programme, Steward said,
“We’re working with the National Economic Crime Centre to take down as many of these clones as possible. And obviously we’re following up the antecedents with NCA [National Crime Agency] and City of London Police to try and track down the perpetrators.”
In my email to Steward, I suggested that he could perhaps pass on the scammers’ bank details to the National Economic Crime Centre, the National Crime Agency, and/or the City of London Police.
On the Today Programme, Steward also said that the FCA is working with the UK domain registry Nominet to get clone firm websites taken down and replaced with an FCA warning. I noted that the clone firm Good Investment Advisors’ website was still live. Good Investment Advisors’ website is still live, two weeks after REDD-Monitor informed the FCA about this ridiculously obvious scam.
The FCA replied to REDD-Monitor
On 7 February 2021, I received an email from the FCA’s Consumer Hub thanking me for my email regarding a firm called “Good Investment Advisers”. The FCA wrote that, “I understand you are alerting the FCA that a clone firm is operating under this name intent on defrauding consumers.”
The FCA continued:
I have reviewed the article you directed us to and would ask that you request any consumers you are aware that have been contacted and/or targeted by the firm you mention to contact the FCA, we use the information from consumers amongst other information sources to add warnings to our FCA register. The more consumers we receive contact from the more information it enables us to gather and share with our regulatory partners about the firm and gives us a better opportunity to track the individuals responsible and take action.
Exactly why the FCA would want more information when they already have the scammers’ bank details is beyond me. But I wrote to the various people who had contacted REDD-Monitor about the “Good Investment Advisors” scam, and asked them to contact the FCA (firstname.lastname@example.org).
REDD-Monitor has seen a copy of the reply that one of these people received from the FCA. “Based on the information you’ve provided this is bearing hallmarks of a scam, please be extremely cautious,” the FCA wrote.
The FCA replied again to REDD-Monitor
Also on 7 February 2021, I received another email from the FCA, this time from the Supervision Hub. This email thanked me for contacting the FCA about Good Investment Advisors and for passing on the bank details. “This type of information assists us greatly with our regulatory duties and can also help prevent members of the public losing their money,” the FCA’s Supervision Hub wrote.
We have a team within the FCA that collects intelligence on firms that appear to be operating without our authorisation or are trying to scam people. I’ve today logged the information you’ve provided and shared it with this team for their consideration.
The FCA issued a warning about Good Investment Advisor Group
On 15 February 2021, the FCA issued a warning about “Good Investment Advisor Group”. It’s a pity the FCA didn’t use the name that the clone firm uses in its emails: “Good Investment Advisors Ltd”. When people search on the internet for that name, they won’t find the FCA warning.
Two weeks after REDD-Monitor reported Good Investment Advisors Group to the Financial Conduct Authority, the company’s website is still live. The scammers are still contacting members of the public. This will continue until FCA carries out its promise of taking down scam websites.
If you are contacted by Good Investment Advisors (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.