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Thursday, 27 August 2020

Barkingside Premier Storage/TMT Investments: more cloning (Part 2)

 


Home page of the TMT Investments site 
the site is a scam using a company name that has also been cloned 
 
 
This second post on the Barkingside Premier Storage scam includes coverage of TMT Investments Ltd, a company that has also been cloned by these fraudsters, who have also cloned the London City Bond site calling it Barkingside Premier Storage. See first post here


The fake TMT Investments Ltd site was
registered on 24th August 2020 

 
The legitimate TMT Investments Ltd company was incorporated at Companies House on 16th March 2017 and its registered office is at 55 Station Road, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, United Kingdom, HP9 1QL. The sole director is Raymond Terence Stocker at Berkhamstead. Stocker became aware that his company had been cloned some three months ago and has subsequently been trying to get it closed down.     
 
More screen grabs from the scam TMT Investments Ltd site

 




Fraudsters' virtual office on 37th Floor, 1 Canada Square, London. E14 5AB
The real TMT Investments Ltd has not have an office at Canary Wharf

 

RZ, a client of bust European Fine Wines, who had sparked my first post on the Barkingside Premier Storage scam was duly contacted by 'TMT Investments Ltd'. They were told that they had a buyer for their four cases of Bordeaux that had miraculously turned up at Barkingside Premier Storage....

RZ told investdrinks: 'They claim Waldorf Astoria hotel group has offered £22,894 for the wine. Buyer will pay them 7% fee. I have to pay £2,747 deposit first They are sending through terms. There’s an escrow arrangement so my wine is safe (LoL) until buyer pays. TMT will the inspect. If OK I will sign ownership over to buyer and get paid. If not OK - I will get my deposit back.They are sending terms now and want deposit today.....

RZ correctly concluded: 'I think the con is that I have to pay a 12% refundable deposit - which they claim I get back if the deal doesn't go through...'

The whole 'deal' is a complete fantasy – the wine doesn't exist nor does Barkingside Premier Storage. The four cases of Bordeaux could be bought from legitimate wine merchants for £19930 (checked through wine-searcher) – substantially below the offer of £22,894 through 'TMT' . RZ challenged the higher valuation 'TMT' salesman played up the higher value as the end user (ie Waldorf Astoria group) will be selling on at "the sort of prices you would see in hotel/bars"!! LOL!! 

TMT soon sent their invoice, terms and conditions and a letter apparently signed by Ronald Terence Stocker (director).

 

 

It was this letter that made me think that TMT Investments Ltd might well have been cloned. It is rare for fraudsters to use their real names but here was Stocker signing a letter promoting an advance fee fraud!  

Checking through Companies House showed that 70-year-old Stocker was a director of 10 companies including Screen & Music Travel Ltd and D.T. Properties, which all looked to be legitimate companies. Furthermore TMT Investments Ltd is a property company and none of Stocker's companies are connected to wine. It seemed highly unlikely and curious that a 70-year-old based in Berkhamstead would be actively involved with these fraudsters, who are probably in their 20s and 30s and likely to be based in Bromley or Croydon. 

The signature on the letter was the real giveaway. Looking at Stocker's actual signature on a number of documents filed with Companies House over more than a decade the signature on the letter (26.8.2020) bears no relation to Stocker's habitual signature, which has remained consistent.

 

Terence Stocker's signature: 17.3.2020 

 

Signature 13.12.18


Scam letter – 26th August 2020: 


Signature on advance fee fraud letter
Clearly not the same person
 
 
Telephone: 020-7459 4463 
Searching 020-7459 4463 on 'Who called me?' brings up several warnings about this scam. The number has an overall rating as dangerous. See below:
 


 
 


investdrinks has passed these details of this advance fee fraud onto  the Serious Fraud and Cyber Unit of Hertfordshire Police based at Welwyn Garden City. Anyone aware of a company being cloned or this type of advance fee fraud should submit a report to Action Fraud.

The more complaints received about a particular fraud/scam the greater likelihood of it being taken up by the police . 


Monday, 24 August 2020

Warning scam clone site: Barkingside Premier Storage

 

 

About us: Barkingside Premier Storage 


Last week I was contacted by RZ, a former client investor of now bust European Fine Wines. They had been contacted and told that miraculously they had some additional wines that had been bought by EFW (European Fine Wines):

 

'EFW bought wines with my money, they may have not been totally transparent with the use of my funds and may have bought additional wines and stored them in my name. These wines appear to have been kept in store at Barkingside - which I have never heard of - and for data protection reasons, Barkingside has sent me a list of wines that appear to be in their store under my name.'

The investor then received an email from a Mr Daniel Wickman, 'storage manager' at Barkingside Premier Storage:

'As requested, we are writing to you in regard to your request for a stock report, we have therefore documented below your stock rotation report (*******) inclusive of the wines that we are currently storing under our administrator account on your behalf:

Chateau Haut Brion 2009 (12x75cl)
Chateau Haut Brion 2010 (12x75cl)
Chateau Montrose 2011 (12x75cl)
Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2009 (12x75cl)'


The investor doubtless had mixed emotions when they received Wickham's message. Delight that unknown to them they had four cases of wine that EFW had kindly bought for them. Suspicion that that this unexpected windfall was part of a scam, so they contacted investdrinks to ask what I knew of Barkingside Premier Storage.   

It soon became clear that the investor was wise to be suspicious. There is no such business as Barkingside Premier Storage and the four cases of wine is the figment of a scamster's imagination. 

The Barkingside Premier Storage website is a clone of the London City Bond (LCB) website. LCB is a legitimate company and is the UK's largest bonded warehouse business, which was founded in 1870 and has a fine wine division with storage available at a number of sites as well as providing bonded warehouse facilities for the wine and spirit trade. Alf Allington is a director of LCB and Ben Jones is a former director. Neither have any connection with Barkingside Premier Storage.

It is instructive to compare the two websites to see that Barkingside is a direct copy of LCB.     

 

 

 

The scamsters behind Barkingside Premier Storage website, which is hosted by godaddy.com, have used the text from the LCB with out their permission and knowledge. 

 

Details of Barkingside Premier Storage site
(registered 27th May 2020) hosted by GoDaddy. 

 

However, LCB is now aware of the scam Barkingside Premier Storage site and on 29th July 2020 they wrote to all of their private customers warning them Barkingside Premier Storage was a scam. Although Barkingside copied LCB's text they have no access to LCB's customers' data


So what's the scam?

 


The four case of Bordeaux do not exist and Barkingside Premier Storage, which has  no entry on the register of UK companies, certainly does not have a warehouse at 565 Ripple Road, Dagenham RM6 4QL – Barkingside's address included in Wickham's email. As the satellite photo above shows No 565 is a private house beside the busy A13 hardly a suitable premises for the 'largest and most successful privately-owned tax warehousing company in the UK'....... However, the postcode (RM6 4QL) given by Wickham is not for Ripple Road but for The Coppins, Chadwell Avenue, Romford RM6 4QL.

This is 'white knight' operation and almost certainly an advance fee fraud. The investor will be told that to sell or get hold of their 'wine' they will need to pay a fee .... The wine, however, is very unlikely to be sold nor and it is equally unlikely that will they see these four cases of fine Bordeaux.  

The telephone number (020-7971 1208) for Barkingside is listed by Who Called Me? as 'dangerous': 

  

Barkingside Premier Storage claim that 'We trade under the current conditions and contracts of the UK Warehousing Association and Road Haulage Association'. Another highly unlikely claim.

 

I trust that LCB can get the Barkingside scam site closed down. They have been in touch with godaddy who host the Barkingside scam site. My strong advice is to steer well clear of Barkingside Premier Storage


Update: victims of other companies contacted

Following a tweet about the Barkingside Premier Storage scam, it is now clear that clients of Imperial Fine Wines Ltd, which changed its name on 10.1.2017 to Imperial Wine & Spirits Merchant, has also been contacted by Barkingside. The accounts and confirmation statement for Imperial are both overdue and a compulsory strike off has been suspended (8.5.2019). 

 


 

A client of the well-established and legitimate Ditton Wine Company also received an email (above) from Daniel Wickham (unlikely to be his real name) claiming that Barkingside had some stock for him. The client was advised that this was a scam. 

 

Warning of this scam sent to members of Wine Owners (24.8.2020)

 

 

 

 

   Barkingside Premier Storage has been invited to comment.

 

  


Saturday, 6 June 2020

The enduring myth of wine's exemption from CGT


From the UKV International AG site


One of the signs of a dubious wine investment company is the bold claim that profits from wine investment are tax free in relation to capital gains tax. Unfortunately the position is not as simple as this.


HMRC advice:

'Wasting assets: wines and spirits

TCGA92/S44 and TCGA92/S45

HMRC’s view of the treatment of bottled wines and spirits was first set out in Tax Bulletin 42 published in August 1999.  This guidance focusses on the availability of the chattels exemption, TCGA92/S262, and the wasting asset exemption, TCGA92/S45(1).

Chattels exemption

Bottled wines and spirits are chattels (tangible moveable property) so disposals for £6,000 or less will be exempt under TCGA92/S262, see CG76573.  If the bottles are disposed of to the same person then they may form a set.  This would depend on the facts of the case including:
  • whether the bottles are “similar and complementary” - which would require the wine in them to have been produced from the same vineyard in the same vintage year, and
  • whether the bottles are of greater worth when sold collectively than when sold individually
See CG76631 onwards for more details.

Wasting asset exemption

A wasting asset is an asset with a predictable life not exceeding fifty years at the time when it was acquired, TCGA92/S44(1).  Whilst this definition would clearly apply to cheap table wine which may turn to vinegar within a relatively short period, even in unopened bottles, our view is that it would certainly not apply to port and other fortified wines which are generally recognised to have a very long storage life.
Between these extremes, there are a number of fine wines which are quite drinkable after a substantial period although of course the taste alters over that time.  With these the basic consideration, in our view, is whether the wine has turned to vinegar or has merely matured.  Of course in practice, most wine is drunk well below the age of 50 years and in that sense it is very difficult to consider the issue in isolation.  However, where the facts justify it, we would normally contend that wine is not a wasting asset if it appears to be fine wine which not unusually is kept (or some samples of which are kept) for substantial periods sometimes well in excess of 50 years.'
There is also this useful article by Philip Whitcomb:

The taxing issue of wine


'Since the age of 18, I have always had an interest in wine. Not just the drinking of it, although I do enjoy that part, but also the laying down and collection of fine wines.
Fine wine investments are often advertised as a tax-free investment, and the average value of fine wines in 2016 rose by around 25%. Whilst such an investment can be tax efficient, there are a number of key considerations which need to be kept in mind. The tax treatment is not as black or white (or perhaps that should be red and white) as you might suppose.'
Read the rest here.

For wine to be a 'wasting asset' it must be undrinkable if kept for 50 years. Although will be true for many wines, it is clear that investment grade fortified wines, such as Port and Madeira, are not wasting assets as they are certainly considered to be drinkable after 50 years from the time they were made assuming the wine was bought soon after it was produced.

These wines may, however, become 'wasting assets' depending on when they were purchased:

HMRC: 'A wasting asset is an asset with a predictable life not exceeding fifty years at the time when it was acquired'.  
If you bought a case of 1963 Taylors Vintage Port soon after it was released, you would be liable for CGT on any profit you made above £6000 on the case. It is likely that HMRC would consider the case as 'similar and complementary' so it would be difficult to claim this £6000 applied to each bottle. 1963 Taylors is still available today as wine-searcher shows and if bought now might well count as a 'wasting asset' as it might well not be drinkable in 2070.
Top Bordeaux, especially from good vintages, clearly has a life of more than 50 years. For instance wine-searcher today lists three pages of 1970 Lafite-Rothschild being offered for sale around the world. Either there is an extraordinary demand for expensive vinegar or there is a widespread expectation that the 1970 Lafite will still make pleasurable drinking. Again when the asset was bought will be a crucial factor in determining whether it is a 'wasting asset' or not.   
It is prudent to assume that First Growth and other top Bordeaux reds as well as Sauternes and Barsacs are not wasting assets if purchased either en primeur or soon after bottling as they have a life expectancy of more than 50 years. Of course it will be rare that Sauternes and Barsacs with the exception of d'Yquem make enough profit when sold to qualify for CGT.  

Inheritance tax
The position regarding inheritance tax is more straightforward. Wine counts as part of your estate full stop. There are no exemptions. Its value is calculated on what it would sell for now rather than on its price when bought. 

Monday, 23 March 2020

Dow & Jones wound up in High Court – overpriced wine investments and stock not bought



Dow & Jones, a wine investment company that investdrinks has long warned against using, was would up in London's High Court on Tuesday 17th March. Wine was sold at double its value, much of the stock wasn't bought and false accounts were filed at Companies House. See announcement from the Insolvency Service below. I trust that criminal charges will be brought against those responsible.  
                                         Additional services!!

 Contact address on website: 16 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6BX
was a virtual office
Dow And Jones Limited was wound up in the public interest on 17 March 2020 in the High Court of Justice before Deputy Judge Jones. The Official Receiver has been appointed as liquidator.
At the hearing to consider the petition to wind up the company, the court heard that Dow and Jones Limited was incorporated in September 2015, with a registered office in Sidcup, Kent, and a trading address in Central London until May 2019.
The Insolvency Service, however, conducted confidential investigations into the wine merchants having received complaints about Dow and Jones’s trading practices.
Investigators discovered that the company sold wine to members of the public as an investment opportunity. Dow and Jones, however, usually sold the stock to those investor customers at double the normal retail price, making it unlikely that investors would ever get their original capital back or make a profit.
Sales staff working for Dow and Jones falsely claimed to investors that 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, with the company also having filed inaccurate accounts at Companies House.
In her judgment, Deputy Judge Jones stated that “there is something extremely wrong about this company”, before confirming that the promised returns to investors were “vastly overstated”.
Irshard Mohammed, Senior Investigator at the Insolvency Service, said
Similar to boiler room operations, 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 sizable 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.
All enquiries concerning the affairs of the company should be made to:
  • The Official Receiver, Public Interest Unit, 16th Floor, 1 Westfield Avenue, Stratford, London, E20 1HZ
  • Telephone: 020 7637 1110
  • Email: piu.or@insolvency.gov.uk

Notes to editors

Dow And Jones Limited (Company number: 09778709) was incorporated on 15 September 2015. The current registered office is located at Onega House, 112 Main Road, Sidcup, Kent, DA14 6NE and it had trading addresses at 4th Floor, 50 Essex Street, London, WC2R 3JF until May 2019 and 16 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6BX, being a virtual office address.
The current recorded director of the company is Mr Anthony Collins, formerly known as Kyrone Collins, whose date of birth is recorded as being in June 1988.
The Petition was presented by The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (“BEIS”) on 12 February 2020 in the High Court of Justice, Business and Property Courts in England and Wales (CR-2020-001052), under the provisions of section 124A of the Insolvency Act 1986 following confidential enquiries by Company Investigations under section 447 of the Companies Act 1985, as amended.