in Australia, Finland, New Zealand, UK

Koenig Rowe Campbell Alliance: More red flags than a golf course

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A company called Koenig Rowe Campbell Alliance is cold calling people in several countries, claiming to be a wealth advisory firm established in 1978. KRC Alliance takes clients’ money and claims to invest it. The investment will need to be increased, for whatever made up reason, to reach a certain number of shares. Then, in order to receive a payout, clients have to pay a security bond. Then another. Then another.

KRC Alliance raises a large number of red flags:

The phone calls

KRC Alliance cold calls people. No legitimate company would cold call people with financial advice.

If you are cold called by KRC Alliance (or any other company offering financial advice) just put the phone down. And report whoever phoned you to the financial regulators and the police.

In April 2016, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority produced a 10 point list to avoid scams and unauthorised firms. Top of the list is to reject cold calls:

If you’ve been cold called about an investment opportunity, chances are it’s a high risk investment or a scam. You should treat the call with extreme caution. The safest thing to do is to hang up.

FCA has more advice about unsolicited calls on its website.

KRC Alliance’s telesales staff ignore clients’ questions about why they have to send more and more money. If they do provide explanations, they are confusing, or just nonsense.

One client told REDD-Monitor that there had never been a contract. After supposedly selling the shares, KRC Alliance’s broker demanded one “security bond” after another.

Clients can expect emotional abuse as well as financial abuse from KRC Alliance’s telesales staff, including being shouted at, sworn at, and told that they are fools.

KRC Alliance is not registered. Anywhere

A search on Open Corporates reveals no registration details for a company called Koenig Rowe Campbell Alliance. Neither is there any company called KRC Alliance.

On its website, KRC Alliance gives an address in London. But there are no companies called either Koenig Rowe Campbell Alliance or KRC Alliance registered at Companies House, the UK’s registrar of companies.

A search for the company’s postcode, given on its website as “EC1V OHS”, reveals no companies registered at this postcode.

The company claims to be an independent financial advisory firm. But the company is not on the Financial Services Register. There are no companies called either Koenig Rowe Campbell Alliance, or KRC Alliance, listed on the Register.

This is an important red flag. If the KRC Alliance turns out to be a scam (which, let’s face it, seems extremely likely) investors have no recourse to the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

A warning in New Zealand

On 1 March 2017, the New Zealand Financial Markets Authority put out a warning about KRC Alliance: “Koenig Rowe Campbell Alliance is not registered on the FSPR and is therefore not allowed to offer financial services in New Zealand.”

The only possible reason for this warning is that KRC Alliance had been (and possibly still is) illegally offering financial services in New Zealand.

KRC Alliance’s website raises a series of issues

On its website, KRC Alliance claims to have a long history: “We are a privately owned and completely independent boutique wealth advisory firm establish in 1978.”

And in a press release from April 2015 KRC Alliance writes:

“Mr. Albert Hoff and Mr. Thomas Harris are both Members of the Koenig Rowe – Campbell Alliance Board of Directors for more than 30 years.”

Yet the company’s website (krc-alliance.com) was only registered in July 2015. Of course it’s perfectly possible for a company to have been around since 1978 without setting up a website until 2015, but it would be extremely unusual.

The company’s first tweet was on 10 August 2015. (And the most recent tweet was on 20 April 2016.)

KRC Alliance’s website was registered under the name “Mika K Koening R”. He gave the address Great Dover Street, London, SE1 4YB. But he didn’t give a house number. A Google search for Mika K Koening only gives results related to the registration of KRCA’s website.

Perhaps it’s a typo. Maybe the surname should read Koenig. But a search for Mika Koenig doesn’t get us any further. In any case, according to KRCA’s website, there is no one called Koenig working at the company.

Incidentally, the website IP address is in Germany, but that only tells us where the website server is – it doesn’t get us any closer to the people behind the website.

KRC Alliance’s website includes a list of 23 people who are in the company’s “Executive Team”. Let’s look at the top three:

A Google search for Clement-Karl Rowe, Co-Chairman of the Board gives just four results. All four are based on information put out by KRC Alliance.

A search for Christopher Campbell Jr., Co-Chairman of the Board, gives several more results. But none of them suggest a career in the financial sector.

Lewis Stone is supposed to be a member of the board of directors. A Google search for “Lewis Stone” gives results mainly relating to an American actor who died in 1953. Adding the word “director” to the search doesn’t improve things. Neither does adding the word “broker” to the search give any results that suggest any sort of financial career.

On its website, KRC Alliance gives the following address: 51 Cyrus Street, London EC1V OHS. That’s a residential street in London, with blocks of flats on both sides of the street. Here it is on Google maps:

It’s unlikely that a business is actually registered in one of these blocks of flats. KRC Alliance certainly isn’t registered there. See the next red flag for where the number 51 comes from in the address.

KRC Alliance’s website design is very similar to that of a New York-based company called Gold Point Partners. I’ve written to Gold Point Partners to inform them that another company has borrowed their website layout. In the following screenshots, KRC Alliance is on the left, Gold Point Partners on the right:

The address of Gold Point Partners is 51 Madison Avenue. Which appears to be where the number 51 in KRC Alliance’s address comes from.

The text on KRC Alliance’s website cannot be copied but here’s an archived version that can. Searching on Google for some of the sentences used on KRC Alliance’s website reveals that KRC Alliance didn’t stop at stealing someone else’s website design. The text is also taken from other websites.

Here are three examples. On KRC Alliance’s website is the following statement:

The firm’s uninterrupted record of growth and profitability, through up and down business cycles, is rooted in a client-centred approach that values relationships over transactions.

This was originally written by an investment bank called Berkery Noyes.

KRC Alliance’s website states that:

As a 100% employee-owned, independent advisory firm, we provide clear and objective investment advice, solely advocating for our diverse group of clients including that of endowments, foundations, institutions, pension funds, corporate and high-net-worth individuals.

This was originally written by an investment adviser firm called Beacon Pointe.

And KRC Alliance’s website states that:

We use an investment process that is fully supported by our own independent research, due diligence and investment decision-making.

This was originally written by an investment adviser firm called HighTower Advisors.

Legitimate firms do not take the text on their website from other firms’ websites. I’ve written to Berkery Noyes, Beacon Pointe, and HighTower Advisors to let them know that KRC Alliance has cut and pasted from their websites.

KRC Alliance’s internet presence

The company has put out a series of press releases. Precisely none of these press releases has resulted in any coverage of KRC Alliance by any media organisation anywhere in the world.

One reason for that could be that the press releases are nonsense.

For example, in a press release dated 27 April 2015, KRC Alliance announces the creation of a “Product Platform Integration Division”. It sounds very impressive, doesn’t it? But what exactly is a product platform integration division? According to the press release, it will “aid the firm’s Allocation Department in the client asset integration process”. Which is gobbledygook.

No other company in the world has a “Product Platform Integration Division”. (A search for the words “Product Platform Integration Division” gives only results from KRCA’s press release.)

KRC Alliance has a pathetic presence on LinkedIn. The company claims to have a staff of more than 50, but only eight of them are on LinkedIn. One of them, Robert Johnson has two contacts on LinkedIn. Another, Simon Blanche, has only one.

In April 2017, someone called Glenn Thomas wrote a complaint against KRC Alliance on Ripoff Report. The gist is that KRC Alliance continually asks for more money, promising that when you make the payment you will receive your money. But the money never comes. Thomas mentions Lewis Stone and Albert Hoff in his complaint.

Thomas also wrote something similar on Facebook.

Campbell Investments

Another company called Campbell Investments Limited has a very similar website to that of KRC Alliance. Here are a couple of comparisons:

The website cilluk.com was registered in December 2015. It was registered anonymously.
 

Someone with a name remarkably similar to Lewis Stone’s works at Campbell Investments: Johnatthan-Lewis N. Stone.

Warnings in Australia, Finland, and New Zealand

In June 2017, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission has issued a warning about Campbell Investments; “ASIC advises this company could be involved in a scam. Do not deal with this business as it is unlicensed in Australia.” ASIC adds that the company “has made unsolicited calls or sent emails about investing, financial advice, credit or loans and does not hold a current Australian Financial Services (AFS) licence or an Australian Credit licence from ASIC.”

In July 2017, Finland’s Financial Supervisory Authority put out a warning about Campbell Investments: “FIN-FSA has reason to suspect that the company offers investment services in Finland without appropriate authorisation.”

In January 2017, New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority put out a warning about Campbell Investments. The FMA explains that Campbell Investments is illegally giving investment advice in New Zealand, and that it is cloning a UK firm that was registered in 1956:

The FMA understands that persons purporting to be involved with a UK registered company Campbell Investments Limited are offering to provide investment advice in NZ without the appropriate registration and license. Our enquiries have determined that this offer of investment advice has not been undertaken by Campbell Investments Limited or its directors nor do they operate the website www.cilluk.com. It appears an unidentified third party is involved. New Zealand residents should exercise caution if they are contacted by persons purporting to be representatives of the UK registered company Campbell Investments Limited.

The address that Campbell Investments (clone) gives on its website is the registered address of Campbell Investments – the company registered in 1956. It’s a residential address, and its owners have nothing to do with the people cold calling retail investors and claiming to be working for Campbell Investments.
 

If you have invested money with KRC Alliance, or Campbell Investments (clone), please report them to Action Fraud, the Financial Conduct Authority, and, if you are outside the UK, the financial regulatory body and the police in your country.

 

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