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World Future Ltd: A boiler room scam bites the dust

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Last month, three London-based companies were ordered into liquidation by the High Court. The three companies, World Future Ltd, Capital Wealth Ltd and Fourteenforty Ltd were selling carbon credits to the public, credits that “were wholly unsuitable for investment by the public”, according to a press release from the Insolvency Service.

The companies were ordered into liquidation in the public interest, following an investigation by Company Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service. World Future marketed the credits. Fourteenforty supplied the credits. Payments went to Capital Wealth. James Ward was the sole director of Capital Wealth, and one of the directors of World Future.

The Insolvency Service reports that,

The investigation found that investors received unsolicited phone calls and were misled as to the prospective investment value of the credits; for example they were told to expect returns of at least 25 per cent and in some cases as much as 50 per cent within a year.
 
The investors were also told that airlines would be buying carbon credits every time a plane took off and that investors would have to get in first to maximise returns. In addition they were told that their investment could be withdrawn at any time. All of these claims were false.

Company Investigations found that before selling carbon credits to the public, World Future jacked up the price by between 150% and nearly 250% of the price paid to its suppliers. World Future was set up in July 2011 and in its first 10 months managed to scam £2.5 million from the public for “near worthless carbon credits”.

Insolvency Service’s press release lists the following projects as generating these “near worthless” carbon credits:

  • Hydro Power project in China,
  • Wind Power project in India,
  • REDD Reforestation project in Kenya,
  • Forest Management project in Papua New Guinea,
  • and a Biomass project in Thailand.

There’s an interesting discussion about World Future on the Love Money forum, here, featuring several people who were ripped off.

Andrew Penman and Nick Sommerlad, investigative journalists at the Daily Mirror, have written two articles featuring World Future. The first article, from September 2012, looks at the links between landbanking company Natural Wealth Consultants and World Future. The second article is about World Future going into liquidation.

The director of Natural Wealth Consultants, Eren Metcalfe, registered the World Future website. His partner, Hollie Chapman, was the founding director of World Future (a position she held for three months). Chapman is also the registered holder of the single issued £1 share in World Future. The registered address of the two companies is the same.

An investor who had spent £33,000 on carbon credits from World Future told Penman and Sommerlad:

“I was coldcalled. I informed them that I was not interested but they continued to call, many times, with a very persuasive ­argument about carbon credits being an excellent investment and one that many financial institutions were promoting and investing in heavily and I, to my eternal shame, caved in.
 
“They have now gone into voluntary liquidation, leaving me without any idea of the whereabouts of what I invested in or even if my credits are worth anything.”

The judge in the World Future case on 6 March 2013, was J. Gaunt QC, sitting as Deputy Judge. His comments should be mandatory reading for anyone considering investing their savings in carbon credits (and for the companies selling carbon credits as investments):

“… in a nutshell, the grounds alleged are that World Future was selling carbon credits as an investment and that Capital Wealth received money from World Future which was funneled into the pocket of Mr Ward. In respect of Fourteenforty, they were one of the suppliers of carbon credits to World Future which were then sold on to unsuspecting customers. The customers were entitled to assume what they were being told by World Future was correct. I have seen evidence that they were being told that the carbon credits were a suitable investment which would go up in price. The true position is that the credits were not a suitable investment at all as they were a wasting asset unlikely ever to be profitable.”

 

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19 Comments

  1. Eco-Synergies Group has also ceased trading and are under Insolvency Practitioners B&C Assocs. apparently due to their Bank accs being frozen, presumably by the courts. or other agency as above.
    Eco-Synergies Nominees is a separate company that apparently has no connection with the ‘Group’ company of the same name and logo. This co. is still operating as nominees for owners of Credits traded by World Carbon, later Worldwide Commodities, owned by a Lee Thompson, now vanished. They bought from and sold through ‘E-S Group, who passed the holdings to E-S Nominees via Citadel Trustees.
    E-S Nominees and Citadel Trust are part of the large and well establishedHutchinson group. If you bought credits from World Carbon/Worldwide Commodities then you should check through Citadel Trustees that your holding actually exist with E-S Nominees. The contact is Anna Rickard who is a director of both companies.

  2. All when and good that these companies are being put out of business, but it appears that the investor is still left high and dry.
    Furthermore as one goes into liquidation another appears often run by the same bunch of rogues.

  3. Yes see my post on the MH Carbon blog – I reckon upwards of £100million has been scammed.

  4. @Mike – True, but at least we know their names…

    For me, there were three interesting things about this story:

    1. World Future managed to scam people out of a lot of money (£2.5 million) in a short time (10 months).

    2. World Future told “investors” that the credits would increase in value. The judge commented, “The true position is that the credits were not a suitable investment at all as they were a wasting asset unlikely ever to be profitable.”

    3. Two of the projects generating these “near worthless carbon credits” were forest projects – a REDD project in Kenya and a forest management project in PNG.

  5. Does anyone have eco synergies nominees ltd address and phone #

  6. @Keith – Eco-Synergies Nominees details are here. It’s registered at Companies House and its registration number is 07575684. The address is 5 Priory Court Tuscam Way, Camberley, Surrey, GU15 3YX.

    But if you have been sold carbon credits by Eco-Synergies (or any other company advertising carbon credits as an investment) I would advise getting in touch with Action Fraud, either via the website http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ or by ringing them up: 0300 123 2040.

  7. Boiler room in japan.
    No company registration, non of the brokers have license, everyone including the telephoe sounds indian and got english names …please,

    Watch it
    http://keystonecapitalgroup.com/

    12th Floor
    POSCO Tokyo Building
    11-14, Ginza 5-Chome
    Chuo-ku, Tokyo
    Japan

    Tel + 81 3 4579 5837
    Fax + 81 3 4579 5841

  8. @Iscamwescam – Thanks. There are lots of boiler room scams out there. But the ones we’re focussing on here are selling near worthless voluntary carbon credits as investments.

  9. Presumably Citadel Trustees would have charged Worldwide Commodities a fee for managing their accounts (Citadel are authorised by the FCA to operate Unregulated Collective Investment Schemes).

    Now that Worldwide have gone down, Citadel are coming after the individual investors for their fee. Tell them to get stuffed.

  10. I believe I started the thread on Love Money and have still been holding onto some thread of hope as I had understood that if the credits were registered with Eco Synergies then I still owned something. I have been trying to get some money back through a contact in New Frontier Advisory of Windsor. The contact has recently advised me that he has passed my name to another company who can sell or reinvest the credits. I too have received a bill fom Citadel and have emailed them for advice lol. I am soo embarrassed that I was taken in by these people an have lost all of m pension lump sum. Will any of these scammers face the force of the law or what recourse do we have. Can we get together and take some sort of action. I have reported to Action Fraud but have not been contacted by anyone there. We may not get our money back but wouldn’t it be nice to see these guys imprisoned.

  11. Has anyone had any positive feed back from Fraud Action regarding these matters ? I too believe we should get together to take action against these people, I also doubt we`ll get any of our £ back.
    Surely this is illegal ??

  12. Scott. It is illegal. Action Fraud get over 2000 calls a day. They have limited resources. They are likely to act based on the number of calls they get about a particular company/area of fraud but many are likely to go uninvestigated. That’s a fact of life. Hence everyone should continue to call, even though you are unlikely to get a personal response. Also write and hassle the FCA, Trading Standards, your MP. Make a noise. Then there is more chance of the authorities putting more resources on it.

  13. Re: Eco Synergies, my father has also made investments with this organisation. I’m currently wading through various lots of paperwork, and have had reminders for the ‘custodian fees’. Have had a reply from Anna Rickard relating to my queries, but no generous offer of refunds. What does the ‘custodian’ do that they feel they can charge a fee?
    Going down the Action Fraud/ MP route.

  14. I have also fallen victim to an investment in carbon credits that used Citadel Trustees Ltd (AKA Eco Synergies Nominees Ltd) as the holding bank. The important point about Eco Synergies’ (Citadel Trustees’) involvement is that the add credibility to the investment and confidence for the investor because they are FSA regulated. They fraudsters are the brokers (under whichever company they set up to carry out their scam) but I believe that FSA regulated companies like Eco Synergies are partly to blame for either not carrying out due dilligence with the clients they deal with or (more likely) turning a blind eye to their practises. In my opinion the FSA should penalise such companies or withdraw their FSA status when they have been seen to be involved with these frauds.
    I have reported to Action Fraud and will be contacting FCA and anyone else I can.