Investors in the failed German Property Group have been targeted by a scam letter inviting them to make a claim on their investment.
The letter, sent earlier this month, stated the group had been able to sell some of its assets to a private equity investor and was making available £280m to claim on a "first come first serve basis via the early termination of each individual bond".
The letter carries the Financial Services Compensation Scheme logo and Investors in People gold award, but a group of eagle-eyed investors quickly identified mistakes such as the misspelling of the group's name as "Germany Property Group" and the fact it had located itself in Birmingham, not Germany.
German Property Group, initially called Dolphin Trust, collapsed last year, putting millions of pounds of UK pension money at risk. A BBC investigation in 2019 estimated the property group borrowed up to £600m from the likes of pension investors, much of it sold through unregulated introducers.
The scheme focused on redeveloping German listed buildings into luxury apartments, and had promised UK investors double-digit returns.
But the company has been beset with problems as investors, many of whom gained access through self-invested personal pensions, saw the maturity date of their investments pass without payment.
The fake letter said the group had been "left to face the facts and acknowledge the truth that we attempted to run before we could walk: purchasing land, buildings and sites without sufficient capital reserves for renovation, maintenance and upkeep."
It went on to say: "Despite onboarding total investments exceeding £900m through Sipp funds, SSASs, hedge funds and private equity, this investment remains unregulated meaning that no regulatory body can aid in the return of funds to our clients and thus the only satisfactory means of providing our former clients with some much needed closure and solace is to offload the lion share [sic] of our assets."
In reality, the Financial Conduct Authority issued a joint letter with other regulatory bodies last October urging people to make a claim with the Financial Ombudsman Service or FSCS if they were sold the products by a UK based regulated entity.
It stated: "If you invested your Sipp or Ssas in GPG through a financial adviser and/or a Sipp operator in the UK and you believe you were mis-sold, you may be eligible for compensation.
"We are working with those financial advisers we have identified as advising UK customers to invest in GPG, as well as the Sipp operators we have identified that are holding people’s investments."
Meanwhile German administrator Goerg wrote to investors informing them of the “total mess” it had found in the business's records.They believe there are between 150 and 200 companies in the group and warned the process of wading through them would take time.
GPG underwent a review last year, followed by a bankruptcy filing for the whole group in late July.