Scams  

Scam warning issued to investors in wound-up scheme

Scam warning issued to investors in wound-up scheme

The Insolvency Service has issued a scam warning to investors in an unregulated investment scheme which was wound up in the High Court last year.

The government body warned investors could be targeted by a third party pretending to be from the Insolvency Service and promising them their money back.

In a statement issued today it said: "The Official Receiver has been made aware that third parties have contacted investors stating that they will receive the return of their investment if they pay over money to the person who is calling. In some instances the person calling claims to work for The Insolvency Service.

"This is a scam and investors should not pay over any money."

Dow And Jones, a wine merchant, was wound up on March 17, 2020 in the High Court before Deputy Judge Jones, with the Official Receiver - a civil servant with the Insolvency Service - appointed as liquidator.

The Insolvency Service first investigated the Kent and London-based company amid complaints from investors about its trading practices. 

Investigators found the company sold wine to members of the public as an unregulated investment opportunity, with vulnerable clients also targeted by its sales tactics. 

During the High Court ruling in March 2020, Judge Jones told the court there was something "extremely wrong" about Dow and Jones and warned the promised returns to investors had been "vastly overstated".

At the time, Irshard Mohammed, senior investigator at the Insolvency Service, said the company ran itself in a similar way to boiler room operations.

Mohammed said: "Dow and Jones used sales scripts from previously failed companies, which assisted salesmen to convince people, including the vulnerable, to invest their money in unregulated investments. Even those customers who received the wine they had paid for lost a sizeable proportion of their investment, as the wine was materially overpriced.

"The courts recognised the unscrupulous nature of Dow and Jones when it wound-up the company and our advice is always to reject unsolicited investment offers that sound too good to be true."

The Insolvency Service said Dow and Jones usually sold the stock to those investors at double the normal retail price, making it "unlikely'' they would ever get their original capital back or make a profit.

According to the government body, sales staff working for the company also falsely claimed to investors additional purchases were required to ensure that a "portfolio of wines could be sold quicker and at a higher price".

Dow and Jones had also failed to honour customer orders going back to 2016 and filed inaccurate accounts at Companies House, according to the Insolvency Service. 

sonia.rach@ft.com

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