The City watchdog has obtained High Court approval to return £3.42m to victims of a number of unauthorised deposit taking and collective investment schemes.
According to the regulator, the schemes were run by Samuel and Shantelle Golding and their companies Digital Wealth Limited, also known as Digital Wealth Society (DWS), and Outsourcing Express Limited (OEL), also known as Kerchiing.
Between 2015 and 2017, the schemes were alleged to have purchased wholesale goods from China online for onward sale and promised “unrealistically high returns”, in some cases up to 100 per cent of the amount invested.
However, no significant trading was conducted and the schemes instead relied on a continuous flow of new investors to fund existing investors’ returns.
The schemes raised more than £15m from 1,000 individual accounts.
The Financial Conduct Authority said it took immediate enforcement action when it found out about the schemes and prevented the disposal of the remaining funds.
Despite this there was a shortfall of £3.3m in the DWS deposit taking scheme and £834,402 in the OEL collective investment scheme.
The FCA has recovered just over £3.4m from various bank accounts containing the proceeds of the schemes and will return this to 356 investors in the DWS scheme and 250 investors in the OEL scheme.
Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “The FCA took action as soon as it became aware of these illegal schemes, preventing further losses to future investors who would be unable to exit the scheme before it inevitably collapsed.
“In this case, we managed to save some money for investors: too often it is too late. These firms were not authorised by the FCA and as we always say to consumers, if a scheme looks too good to be true, do not invest.”
He added: “We have worked very hard to identify people eligible to receive compensation from these schemes and are pleased to have been able to recover and return some of their money.”
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