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A company calling itself “Blackrock Commodities” is running a recovery room scam. Along with other companies calling themselves “Carter & Carter”, “Asio Capital”, and “Alexander Forbes”

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2016-03-22-181602_1680x1026_scrotA company claiming to be called “Blackrock Commodities” is cold calling people who have been scammed into buying carbon credits as investments. “Blackrock Commodities” claims to be able to sell the carbon credits for £5 to a Swedish company called Asio Capital. All you have to do is pay an advance fee. It’s a scam, of course.

Yesterday, John Arnold left a comment on REDD-Monitor, asking whether any readers had had any contact with “Blackrock Commodities” and asking for advice. Here’s his comment, outlining the “Blackrock Commodities” scam:

I have an offer to sell my carbon credits for around £5 per unit by a company Blackrock Commodities. Their buyers are a Swedish company Asio Capital . I have been given their address in Sweden and the address of the company they are using to presumably broker the deal (Carter and Carter) and also Alexander Forbes the Escrow Agents they are using. I have spoken to both these companies who say they have been dealing with Blackrock for a number of years and have successfully completed various deals. The deal is that I pay £6000 upfront to secure the Corporate Re-diversion of the credit. This is refundable after the deal is complete (1st April). I feel there is nothing else I can do to confirm that this deal is legitimate but I am still not convinced.

I’ve highlighted the names of the companies and clues that tell us this is a scam. Before getting into the details, there’s a big red flag that gives the game away:

“Blackrock Commodities” cold called John Arnold

red flag“Blackrock cold called on the basis of having my carbon credits on a registry which I believe is true,” John Arnold writes. “Blackrock Commodities” is lying. The scammers got his contact details from what they call a sucker list. These are lists of people who have been scammed, with information about who they are, their contact details and what they were scammed into buying. Sucker lists are traded between the scam companies.

Here’s a screenshot from insurance company Aviva’s website about cold calling:

If you are cold called, the only safe thing to do is put the phone down. If you are feeling adventurous you could listen to the sales pitch, collect as much information as possible, in order to report the company to Action Fraud and the Financial Conduct Authority.

Other give aways include the advanced fee and the limited time that the offer is available. “Corporate re-diversion” is the fancy term that scammers give to converting voluntary carbon credits (VERs – verified emission reductions) to compliance carbon credits (CERs – certified emission reductions). The first problem with this is that there is no way of doing this. The second problem is that CERs are currently changing hands for €0.40, as this graph from commodities trading company Vertis shows:

Carbon price

The unfortunate reality is that the carbon credits sold by scam companies as investments are worth even less than CERs.

Now that we know this is a scam, let’s look at the companies involved.

“Blackrock Commodities”

BlackRock Commodities Income Investment Trust is a real company. The company is registered in the UK. It’s part of BlackRock Inc, the world’s biggest asset manager with more than US$4.5 trillion in assets under management. But the scammers have nothing to do with Blackrock Inc, other than the fact that they have stolen the company’s name.

Blackrock Inc’s website address is blackrock.com. The scammers gave John Arnold a different website address: blackrock-commodities.com. It was registered (anonymously) on 4 January 2016. And here’s what you see if you click on the scammers website:

BlackRock

Parts of the website are still available via Google’s cache.

The phone number that the scammers gave (0207 859 4985) features on various “who calls me” discussion groups. In most cases, when people answered their phones, no one was there. Needless to say, the phone number doesn’t appear anywhere on BlackRock Inc’s website.

Asio Capital

In February 2015, REDD-Monitor reported on another recovery room scam that featured a Swedish company called Asio Capital:

Peter James from Noble Rock Partners phoned “baj”. When the paperwork arrived from Noble Rock Partners, it mentioned a Swedish company called Asio Capital. But no contact details were given for Asio Capital. When “baj” asked why he couldn’t find the company’s website, James told him, “It’s because they are based in Sweden.”

A search for “Asio Capital” Sweden, gives three results – all on REDD-Monitor. I think it’s reasonable to assume that the company doesn’t exist.

Somewhat bizarrely, since Asio Capital is supposed to be a Swedish company, the scammers gave a UK phone number for the company: 0800 6893973. Once again the number features on various “who calls me” discussion groups.

It’s also the number of a company called Henderson Global Trading. In August 2015, the Financial Conduct Authority put out a warning that Henderson Global Trading was a clone company:

Henderson Global Trading

Carter & Carter

Carter & Carter’s website (www.carterandcarterinternational.com) was registered (anonymously) on 11 March 2016. After only 11 days in business, the company can claim that, “Carter & Carter is one of the world’s leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms”. Impressive. Even more impressive is the number of people working for Carter & Carter. If it keeps up this rate of growth, pretty soon we’ll all be working for Carter & Carter:

More than 40,000 Carter & Carter people, across over 130 countries, are focused on making a difference to clients, colleagues and the communities in which we live and work. In the UK we provided services to over 40,000 privately held businesses, public interest entities and individuals. It is led by more than 185 partners and employs more than 4,500 of the profession’s brightest minds.

There is a company called Carter & Carter Partners Ltd that was registered in the UK in November 2012. But the most recent accounts submitted to Companies House reveal a small company with assets of only £91,641.

Alexander Forbes

The scammers told John Arnold they would use a company called Alexander Forbes as Escrow Agents. And the scammers gave John Arnold a website address for the company: alexanderforbesinternational.com. The website was registered (anonymously) on 4 January 2016. Clicking on the web address takes you to same place as blackrock-commodities.com (see the “Temporarily unavailable” screenshot, above). Again, parts of the website are still available via Google’s cache.

This statement is on what’s left of the company’s website:

Alexander Forbes Escrow Services was set up in 2014 and is wholly owned by Michael Ward LLP (CRN: OC3633453, England), a firm of solicitors.

This is pure fiction. A search for “Michael Ward LLP” Solicitors gives two results, one on alexanderforbesinternational.com, the other on alexanderforbesint.com. A search for “CRN OC3633453” gives the same two results. The website alexanderforbesint.com was registered (anonymously) on 11 March 2016.

There is a financial services group called Alexander Forbes, with its headquarters in South Africa. The scammers are cloning yet another company.

If you have been cold called by any of these companies (or anyone else who asks for an advance fee, and offers to sell your carbon credits, no matter what story they give) please contact Action Fraud and the Financial Conduct Authority.

 

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14 Comments

  1. Has this been reported to Blackrock Inc.? They are likely to take a very dim view of this type of behaviour, which is called ‘passing off’

  2. @Jonathan Price (#1) – Thanks for this. I’ve left a message for BlackRock Inc on their Facebook page and on Twitter (I couldn’t find any email contacts for BlackRock Inc):

  3. MAPLETREE CAPITAL or MAPLETREE UK MANAGEMENT LTD
    I received a cold call from a company called Mapletree Capital or Mapletree UK management Ltd – 73 Cornhill, London EC3V3QQ

    The company claimed they were putting together and selling on groups of carbon credits from small investors who shouldn’t have been sold carbon credits in the first place as individuals.

    I said they were almost worthless and although I held a fair number I knew they were unable to get my money back. Apparently big companies are looking for the older more valuable credits!!

    They stated that they could get a good price and would verify them for me gaining access to the different registries where they would be listed.

    What a surprise they were all valid and they could sell them for me with a slight profit. (overall offer £38,000) If I wasn’t interested they had lots of others who would jump in quickly to benefit from the 2 companies who were very interested out of the 10 they had asked and only one company had made the right level of offer.

    I stated very clearly that I would only sell with no upfront fees, through a solicitor who would hold the credits until the money was cleared and then pay Mapletree Capital their small commission following completion of the transaction. They said they would invoice me after I received the main payment. (I was still looking for the catch and how they were gong to make their money)

    They claimed they had been selling carbon credits since 2002 as part of Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd, who have offices all over the world.

    I emailed Mapletree Investments Pte Ltd to find that Mapletree Capital were nothing to do with them, even though strangely they were using all the international addresses and their Logo. They were also investigating this situation as they had copied a significant part of their information from their website.

    The phone number I was being called from, when I called back was not valid – clever??!! The main office number was not working and there was a redirection, which I called to find that the number was not owned by Mapletree and was up for resale.

    Mapletree Capital was also only registered with Companies House in August 2015 and have a large negative value, no track record of filed accounts, three directors and no secretaries.

    During my next call from Mapletree, I heavily questioned the person I was talking to who told me a load of lies and claimed he didn’t know many of the facts I was giving him and wanted me to email the concerns for him to challenge and defend.

    Strangely I have not heard from them this week but am very concerned that they will target others. They must be stopped as this is clearly another boiler room scam.

  4. I too was contacted by “Blackrock” last week. They col called and had most of my details including my carbons already. He was very chatty and seemed quite professional compared with the various traders. Hasn’t rung back or emailed since.

    I was also coincidentally called by another coldcaller Richard from “Burkley ” who also knew knew all about me and my carbons but who has repeatedly called again. As he wanted an advance payment I have not been tempted.

  5. And another company to add to the list of recovery room scammers is Financial Services Net Limited. They approached me (cold call)and advised they could sell on my VER Carbon Credits but there is a need to pay for an International Trading License to permit me to sell these abroad. Since this will be a temporary license I will be refunded the cost of the license once my sale has gone through. I am waiting for bank details to which the payment is to be made. Needless to say I will not be making any payment and once I have all the information I will make a report to Action Fraud.

  6. Hi Chris,Ihave recently been contacted by a company called Blackrock International,2nd floor,Berkeley Square House Berkeley Square,London,W1J 6BD.TEL.0207 859 4985.EMAIL http://www.blackrock-int.com. They contacted me by letter saying,after extensive discussions with the asset registries,they have been given full authority to aid private clients in the trading out of carbon credits.Just wondered if you had heard of this company,and wondered if you may be able check it out for me.

  7. @Peter (#6) – Thanks for this. It’s a scam. First, they cold called you, which no legitimate company would do. Second, the company’s website was registered (anonymously) on 29 March 2016. Third, they are cloning a real investment company called Blackrock (see the post above). Fourth, the phone number is the same used by the scammers in the post above. Fifth, no one wants to buy the carbon credits that retail investors were scammed into buying as investments. They are effectively worthless.

    Please report Blackrock International to Action Fraud: 0300 123 2040.

  8. I have also been contacted last week by post by Blackrock-Int with a letter using the same words as in Peter’s case above. Pity they use the incorrect mail address used by the fraudsters at Bradlodge, Brookpoint and Brookcourt previously.

  9. Has anybody been contacted by Trident Financial Management about selling carbon credits? Rachel King from that company called today claiming to be from their Compliance Department about a deal to “exit” me from the carbon credits market. She caimed the company is FCA regulated but rang off when I asked for the FCA number. According to Companies House, Trident Financial Management has been dissolved.

  10. I have also been cold called from Trident who would sell credits, but a written guarantee from them proved worthless as the promised deal fell through, after giving them money to cover “fees”!!

  11. it is possible that the two, are run by the same people. Kevin Mitchell, look a lot like the man in the photo Blackrock, above. JONATHAN PRICE,BR JONATHAN SMITH Trident.? I haver photos of so could executive team. All I need to do is to fined a way to down lode them.

  12. Another company using the same telephone number as Blackrock, 0207 859 4985, is Pentagon Asset Management. I suspect this is a clone of Pentagon Capital Management. Like Blackrock, they give an address in Berkeley Square, though this is not the address of Pentagon Capital Management.
    This scam is quite devious. I got a call from someone called Alan Limpkin claiming to be from the FCA with a story about the FCA working to recover the funds of companies that had gone into liquidation, but using external agencies to do the recovery work. He said that an individual had been arrested who had a computer memory stick containing details on my – and others – dealings with a couple of scam companies, Brookcourt and Maple Leaf Management. He gave me a “security passcode” so that I would know it was legitimate when the external agency contacted me.

    I phoned the FCA and they have nobody by the name of Limpkin on their system and their fraud people knew nothing of this development.

    I was duly contacted by Pentagon Asset Management and was spun a yarn about how they would be able to value my assets and find a buyer. This would be interesting as I believe that none of the assets ever existed! I asked for a copy of their terms and conditions and eventually received a copy of a sample asset sale contract with the signature of Lewis Chester. I also received an extract from a company check, but this was for Pentagon Capital Management.

    Action Fraud here we come!

  13. I have been cold called by Jonathon Hardy from Pentagon Asset Management offering
    to sell my carbon credits for £8.14 each , the supposed buyer being Tech Works International in Sweden Advance payment was requested., So I said a quick goodbye.