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Ponzi victims targeted by 'recovery room scammers'

Ponzi victims targeted by 'recovery room scammers'

Investors in a liquidated multi-million property "ponzi" scheme have been targeted by scammers claiming to return funds on a "first-come-first-served" basis in return for thousands of pounds in fees.

In an update published on its website yesterday (June 11) The Insolvency Service warned fraudsters were using scare tactics amid the coronavirus pandemic to dupe investors in the now-dissolved multi-million investment scheme Essex and London Properties. 

The company was wound up in 2018 after operating a "Ponzi" scheme which raised almost £20m from more than 800 investors, with the promise of annual returns of between 8 and 12 per cent.

But funds have not yet been returned to investors and the Insolvency Service warned there are no other avenues for the assets to be recovered and realised.

Deputy official receiver Joanna Caswell said many investors had reported receiving unsolicited correspondence from firms claiming to have funds to distribute.

Ms Caswell added: "Not only are these letters false but they use scare tactics to frighten people into action.

"These schemes pose a serious threat and we strongly advise anyone who invested in Essex and London Properties Ltd to not engage with anyone who claims they can recover your investments.

"The official receiver will never contact anyone offering to recover their money for a fee or recommend another organisation offering the same service."

The Insolvency Service warned it had seen correspondence using scare tactics encouraging investors to secure their funds on a "first-come-first-served" basis and a fee must be paid before the money can be "unlocked".

The unauthorised firms, dubbed "recovery room scammers", have also sent doctored bank statements to investors showing false funds allegedly available for distribution.

The scammers have posed as staff from the Insolvency Service and in one case an investor was given a residential address to send £3,000 to in an envelope so they could receive further payments.

rachel.mortimer@ft.com

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