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The OTC Registry: “The registrar service of last resort,” or just part two of the boiler room scam?

A recovery room is a company that claims to offer assistance to people who are the victims of boiler room fraud. For a fee, of course. The recovery room is the second part of the boiler room scam.

Recently, a company calling itself the OTC Registry has contacted people who bought carbon credits from MH Carbon, offering them access to the company’s registry service. In the three years before it went into liquidation, in May 2013, MH Carbon sold carbon credits to more than 5,000 people, raising a total of £18.7 million. But the carbon credits that MH Carbon sold are worth a tiny fraction of this amount. The victims of the fraud are left with near worthless carbon credits.

Enter the OTC Registry, which, for a fee, provides a “central reference point”, to link buyers with sellers of carbon credits. But note the repeated use of the word “may” on the company’s website:

This may provide those holding Carbon VERs a central reference point that may assist in the future liquidation of their holdings by developing a hub with which to introduce interested buyers to vendors/sellers and those holding VERs.

Registering your carbon credits with OTC Registry costs £199.99 – a 20% discount on the “normal” rate of £249.99.

In a press release put out today, OTC Registry’s “new business executive”, Mathew Downes, says,

“For too long, unregulated investment firms have sold unsuitable investments and held them in out of reach ‘Nominee’ trading accounts. The danger this poses, is as has happened with City brokers recently, if the sales broker goes into receivership; it is next to impossible to verify who the beneficial owners are of the assets.

“Furthermore, if a buyer was ever enticed into acquiring the credits of any particular project that the nominee clients held – how would the two parties be put in touch with one another?”

What neither OTC Registry, nor Mathew Downes, explains, of course, is that the problem is not establishing the ownership of the credits. The problem is that the carbon credits that boiler room companies have sold are near worthless.

According to the company’s website, “The OTC Registry is a trading name of OTC Registrars Limited : Registered with Companies House in England and Wales : Co. Number 08411962.” Which all sounds above board, except that no company called OTC Registrars Limited is registered at Companies House. (A company called OTC Registrars is listed on duedil.com, but the company is dissolved.) The Company Number 08411962 does exist, but the name of the company registered with this number is called Independent Power Limited. The director of this company is Paul Keightley and the company was established in February 2013. (Incidentally, Keightley was also director of another company with the same name that was dissolved in 2002.)

OTC Registry’s website (theotcregistry.com) was registered on 6 June 2013. It was registered anonymously.

The company has another website (otcregistry.info), which was registered on 19 April 2013. It was registered by Anthony Standforth, who gave an address for OTC Registry in Belize City.

Yet another OTC Registry website (otcdealbook.com) was also registered on 6 June 2013. It was registered by Paul Keightley, who gave OTC Registry’s address as Seedbed Business Centre, Shoeburyness, UK. That’s the same address given on the OTC Registry’s website.

So Keightley seems to be using the wrong company registration number on the OTC Registry website. And maybe he’s just not got round to registering OTC Registrars at Companies House. None of which inspires much confidence in OTC Registry.

Seedbed Business Centre is in Southend-on-Sea, a seaside resort at the mouth of the River Thames in Essex. That’s a picture of it on the left, from Google maps. OTC Registry does not give a unit number in its address, and the Seedbed Business Centre offers virtual offices, suggesting that if you visited you would be unlikely to find Paul Keightley or any other OTC Registry employees there.

OTC Registry only set up its website a couple of months ago. It isn’t registered at Companies House. It probably runs out of a virtual office on a small industrial unit in Essex. The company’s website provides no information about who runs the company. In addition to your money, if you were to register, you would provide OTC Registry with your address, phone number, email address and details of how badly you’d been scammed. All of which is no doubt very useful information for boiler room operations looking for “good leads”.

The Financial Conduct Authority has some useful advice for people who have been scammed. Step 1: Stop sending money. This applies to both the boiler room and to the recovery room(s) that will subsequently contact you.

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  1. Indeed the recovery rooms are on the up. Tolland & Boch offering to include my credits in their corporate offset deals. But their is an upfront admin fee of £600. Logos of Nike, Cartier, McLaren and Wimbledon are on their website.

  2. [R-M: This comment has been deleted because it didn’t comply with REDD-Monitor’s comments policy. Responses may also be deleted.]

  3. The OTC Registry WHAT DOES OTC stand for ?(On The Con?)

    Well done !! on this post I have been waiting for someone to comment about MH Carbon.

    These (The OTC Registry) people have telephoned my husband this week also.

    ”The OTC Registry” is compiling a register of unfortunates that have been mis-sold Carbon, Land, Wine, Rare earth metals (whatever they are?) and so on. They charge you £249.99 for the pleasure of registering, however you may qualify for a massive £49.99 discount. They profess to having buyers for all your assets (including Rare earth metals?), but they dont, they have placed adverts on the internet asking for buyers instead.

    We are personally keeping our credits, they are currently worth so little to what I paid as I note that specialists in the Carbon world are currently advising ‘hold’ them.

    DO NOT FALL AGAIN FOR THE OTC REGISTRY .

  4. i have brought some carbon credits i am now contacted by numerous companies who are offering me to offset my ver credits if i become there client like buying some cer they will then join them up and sell them for me.
    i am also contacted by tolland and boch they asking for a fee of 500 pounds per case and 10 percent when i am paid for my carbon credits.
    what is the best way out for me i am not desperate to see i can hold will they get worthless with time?

  5. @z k khattak (#5) – I’m afraid that your carbon credits are already worth a great deal less than you paid for them. The nature of the scam is that companies buy the credits very cheaply and then convince people to buy them, as investments for very much more.

    Please contact Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040. In addition to registering a complaint you can ask Action Fraud for advice.

    And please follow the advice from the Financial Conduct Authority: Stop sending money.

  6. Chris,
    I invested money with MH Carbon. I realise that i’ve lost a reasonable amount of money. However, do you think there’s a chance of getting a prosecution against the Directors and salesmen at MH Carbon and associated companies such as Vaeron Finance? Several former Directors had been prosecuted? Does Action fraud have the authority to prosecute? I sent them a list of Directors and company names.