The High Court has wound up a network of scam companies set up to swindle savers out of almost £5 million by offering worthless carbon credit and fine wine investments.
The fraudsters working for the companies lied about the value of the potential investments – and in one case stole £1.2 million from one couple.
The companies were ordered into liquidation for their involvement in objectionable trading, making misleading statements to investors and failing to keep proper accounting records following an investigation by the Insolvency Service.
The companies are London Carbon Neutral Ltd, Blakeney Bridge Wine Ltd, Blakeney Bridge Ltd, Savi IT Ltd and KMD Energy Solutions Ltd which were based in Croydon; Earthsky Limited based in Chelmsford; and two British Virgin Island companies Consolidated Carbon Projects Limited and WK Investments Holdings Limited.
Carbon credits and fine wine con
The court heard that potential investors were contacted by sales people working for the companies who tried to persuade them to hand over cash without explaining the investment risks.
They were told that carbon credits were ‘the holy grail for private investors’ and that their money was safe.
Investors were persuaded to pay between £3.75 and £7.50 a unit for two projects in Papua New Guinea, margins of 600% and 875% on the price paid by London Carbon Neutral.
At least £3 million of carbon credits were sold to investors and skimmed off by the fraudsters.
None was paid to tribes in Papua New Guinea, who wanted the money to fund green projects.
Porsches parked outside
The fine wines were marked up by 90% for sale to investors. The Insolvency Service believed about £1.5 million worth of wine was sold by the companies.
Chris Mayhew, company investigations supervisor for the Insolvency Service, said: “This was a big boiler room operation involving companies in Britain and overseas. When we went to their offices they were easy to spot as they had all the Porsches parked outside.
“They were also the biggest phone users at the address.
“These were rogue companies ripping off consumers. We will track down and close any companies like this operating against the public interest.”