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More “scumbag correspondence” from Enviro Associates

Almost a year ago, the BBC secretly filmed Luke Ryan, the director of Enviro Associates, making misleading claims about how much money can be made by investing in carbon credits. Ryan reckoned there was “serious money” to be made. Of course, we know he was lying. An online survey by the Financial Conduct Authority found that no one had made any money by investing in carbon credits.

Enviro Associates used to be a “clearing member” of Carbon Neutral Investments Limited. Enviro Associates is now a “clearing member” of Gemmax Solutions, one of the three companies that Carbon Neutral Investments split into earlier this year. The Financial Conduct Authority has issued a warning about investments involving both Carbon Neutral Investments and Gemmax Solutions. It has also issued a warning about carbon credits, in which FCA describes the sale of carbon credits as “most likely a scam”.

So, Enviro Associates’ director was filmed by the BBC misleading potential investors. The FCA has issued warnings about companies that Enviro Associates works with and about the product that Enviro Associates is selling. Yet the company continues its utterly unregulated operations, misleading people about carbon credits and relieving them of their money.

On the Financial Times blog, FT Alphaville, Paul Murphy described an email from the company as “scumbag correspondence”. Enviro Associates, it seems, has moved on to phase 2 of the scam – the recovery room. Here’s the email from Enviro Associates, targeting people who have bought near-worthless carbon credits:

Good afternoon,

We hope this email finds you well. It has been brought to our attention that you have been approached by a number of sales companies in the past regarding the purchasing of carbon credits. For example, some of the particular companies in question are: Capital Asset Partnership, Worldwide Commodities, MH Carbon Limited as well as many others.

If you have made a purchase of carbon credits through a sales company and would like to receive some of the latest information regarding the market, then please email or call me on my direct number: 01962-353170.

Please note that we pay approximately £6-7000 a year in Thomson Reuter subscription to gain the latest research that is not publically accessible. This is so that we remain accurate in all of the information that we provide over phone. It also means that we are able to provide samples of our statistical data that is provided to us from Thomson Reuters directly that is not publically accessible without paying the fees as listed above.

We look forward to offering you support,

Kindest regards,

 

So what happens if you reply to Enviro Associates’ email? Well, it turns out that Enviro Associates is not actually offering to sell your carbon credits. Instead it’s asking you for £798. Exactly what you receive in return for this money is far from clear, but seems to be something to do with “services”:

Good afternoon,

Firstly in the voluntary carbon market, no one can sell your credits at this stage because the trade platforms are still in development stage. If you are told otherwise by other companies then this would be a scam. The tools you need to sell when the platforms are ready is called an electronic trading account. This is the tool to make sales on platforms when accessible to do so. The latest predictions by Thomson Reuters is that platforms may be active for private investors to trade in the next 12 to 24 months. We can provide you the electronic trading account so you are ready to go as soon as platforms become available. We also provide £7500 worth of market data and news from Thomson Reuters so you know the exact developments going forward.

If you choose to wait it out and try and join a broker when platforms become active. You will not be at the forefront of the market due to lack of info provided to you. Any broker at that time will prioritise their existing clients over investors joining when exits are already established. This would obviously mean it would take longer to sell your asset. To gain the services at this point all it would cost is £798 with ourselves this would not be the same with other companies as we have very small allocations to give to people at this stage. At a later date if you tried to join you could be looking at A few thousand pounds to get exited instead of £798 to be handled throughout the lifespan of your involvement in the market.

Kind regards,

 

Enviro Associates is correct that “no one can sell your credits”. But there are two reasons for this. First, your credits are near worthless and you paid far too much for them. Second, there is currently a massive oversupply of carbon credits (both voluntary and compliance). Neither an electronic trading account nor Enviro Associates’ “services” will change these facts. “Scumbag correspondence” indeed.

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15 Comments

  1. Indeed. Its remarkable that nearly a year after they were exposed on the BBC they are allowed to continue trading and that the Insolvency Service haven’t taken step to wind them up in the public interest

  2. The significant observation should be that neither compliance based or voluntary Carbon credited projects real or fictional have raised any funds to support activations and/or sustainable projects. Salaried people with global institutions have been paid from tax payer resources while commission based multiple variety enterprises have established to verify ( or not) credits to trade. The sharp shooters got in cashing up to exit quite some years back. What remains are the sludge shifters ever hopeful of catching a fish. Meanwhile there remains nothing of sustainable value within REDD or REDD+++. Even at national government to national government or multinational institutional level no solid market for Carbon Credited project or market mechanism support has materialized. In truth the over all development policies that have motivated this notion of carbon credited economic activity have only achieved to open up new mechanisms for exploiting the most poverty impacted communities of the world. At least it will be relatively easy to quantify the damage done.

  3. I am confused, do they not state that they are providing thousands of pounds worth of data? Is this true? Surely that means if I pay 798 pounds at least I have access to the most accurate information possible and I don’t have to pay thousands for it?

  4. @Bob (#3) – If you believe that Enviro Associates will provide you with “the most accurate information possible”, you will believe anything. If you hand over your £798 you will be fed more “scumbag correspondence” aimed at relieving you of yet more of your money.

  5. Thanks Chris,

    I am actually looking at a product with this company with a guarantee of 8% per year. I have asked for everything that I need to be satisfied, and it does look fine, so all of this is confusing. I also asked for research samples to understand a bit more about carbon and it is from Thomson Reuters directly, are Thomson Reuters trust worthy?

  6. @Bob Wain (#5) – Enviro Associates is a company that sells carbon credits as investments to members of the public. Carbon credits are not a suitable investment for members of the public. But don’t take my word for that. Read this press release from the Insolvency Service.

    Then read this warning from the Financial Conduct Authority.

    Then read this presentation to the City of London Police by Andrew Ager, ex-head of carbon and emissions at Bache Commodities

    And if you’re still not convinced, why not write to the journalists at Thomson Reuters who wrote the articles that Enviro Associates gave you? Ask the journalists whether they think you should hand your money over to Enviro Associates, or any other company that’s selling carbon credits as an investment.

  7. @Bob Wain: If anyone promises you a high return on ANY investment with little or no risk then alarm bells should be ringing. If it were true then why doesn’t the company making you the offer buy into the investment themselves? There is no reward without risk no matter what any salesperson would have you believe.

  8. Hi Chris, thanks for that. I am satisfied that the product I am looking at is completely legitimate following my own research. Whilst I take your comments onboard, this is my only interest. Many thanks

  9. Thank you,

    If I am honest, they have explained that it is not risk fee, the guarantee is for year 1 and 2 of the investment as I understand it. Yes, I have already looked into this, and staff have invested which has been proven to me.

    Many thanks

  10. Bob, you seem to have been able to satisfy yourself that the product is legitimate without doing *any* of your own research, or considering the many, many pointers to the exact opposite. So you are either a scammer’s dream, or a scammer (a possibility that might explain your otherwise unintelligible disavowal of ‘interest’).

  11. Hi Chris. I recently decided to invest 30k and looking at the carbon market i spoke to 2 companies. The first company agreed it was a great investment where my unit cost would rise to 18 pound a unit after the first 18 months. They assured me it was worth the investment. The second company I spoke to told me that i must understand the risk involved in any speculative market. I in a 30 minute phone call was eventually advised that for my personal circumstances an investment of 1k would be more than enough. That I should consider more risk adverse investments and that I should look to balance the risk potential in the carbon market with solid investments that have proven track records The second company I spoke to buy the way was Enviroassociates. I trust their judgement after my own research. They are not mis-selling, They were honest from the start and encouraged me to source my own data rather than just taking their word for it. They could of taken my 30k instead they took 1k leaving me free to invest in different ventures of which they got none of the profit or commission. These guys are not crooks. That said I really would advise people to think carefully about their future and how much is affordable for them to invest and if in doubt minimize the risk by minimizing the investment. Dont put your eggs in one basket. but at the same time dont rule this market out. Change is coming and carbon will prove a great investment I feel. Remember peoples concerns in investing in oil when it was first introduced at $6 a barrell and look at it now. dont be scared but be safe but dont read one opinion read everything available to you. Enviro are still going a year on from their bad press. The government would not take kindly to this so I am fairly certain they see the costs and standard of trading to be on par with what the market currrently is against what it hopes to be. That said I would appreciate if you could explain why you feel it is not a good investment. What is your background? Do you operate in the financial market? I ask not to offend but I would like professional opinions of all on this as I am still tempted to do things in the carbon market in the future. Thanks Chris

  12. Richard, with the best will in the world, I believe that all I need to highlight here is my previous comment:

    ‘I am satisfied that the product I am looking at is completely legitimate following my own research'(# 8) 10 November 2013 at 2:33 pm

    ‘my own research’

    I am merely trying to establish a bit of rationality, certainly not to discredit anyone else’s experiences/views.

  13. Simon, what research did you do exactly? If you enter “Voluntary Carbon Credits” into Google at least five results on the first page are about this being a scam. As you are making a claim that seems to go against the current consensus, please do explain exactly why you think this is a good investment, and try to respond in such a way that does not sound like an advertisement for Enviro Associates.

  14. Bob and Simon. These guys may well have stopped pushing carbon credits as an investment and be focusing on other ‘alternatives’. There are many investments that offer an 8% annual return (a high yield corporate bond for example) but with the appropriate risk that you may lose your capital. The question is, based on their track record of getting many many people to invest large sums of money completely inappropriately in carbon credits, is this really a firm you want to do business with? All we can do is make you aware of the facts of their past dealingsso you can come to a rational decision.