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Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Land-banking scammer disqualified as director for 14 years

Director disqualified for £1.7 million landbanking scam that left customers with virtually worthless land
A company director who ran an extensive landbanking scam through his three companies that misled members of the public into parting with at least £1.7 million for small plots of land of little value has been disqualified from being a company director for 14 years.

A company director who ran an extensive landbanking scam through his three companies that misled members of the public into parting with at least £1.7 million for small plots of land of little value has been disqualified from being a company director for 14 years.
Eren Metcalfe, formerly known as Eren Cemal Ibrahim, was the sole director of Natural Wealth Solutions Ltd, Proctor Capital Ltd and Land Security Management Ltd, three companies that were wound up in the public interest by the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, after an investigation carried out by Live Investigations, part of the Insolvency Service, following complaints by members of the public. 

Examination of the companies’ affairs by the Official Receiver after the winding up orders showed that, between them, Natural Wealth Solutions Ltd and Proctor Capital Ltd received at least £1.7 million, the proceeds of a land banking scheme which misled members of the public in order to induce them to buy plots of land as an investment, when it was not.

The companies’ salespeople represented the plots of land that they marketed as being suitable for development and having a realistic prospect of obtaining planning permission. However, the land sold to customers had little, if any, value for development purposes and was sold at mark ups of between 18 and 63 times the purchase price per acre. None of the land had planning permission, and had little prospect of obtaining it. Neither Mr Metcalfe nor the staff had any expertise in assessing land, and made no enquiries as to the likelihood of planning permission being granted. 

Commenting on the disqualifications Paul Titherington, Official Receiver at The Insolvency Service’s Public Interest Unit, said:
As with all the other land banking companies that the Official Receiver has dealt with over many years, these companies have brought misery to unsuspecting members of the public, who were persuaded to part with their savings in exchange for virtually worthless plots of land. In over 7 years of dealing with land banking scams I have not seen a single piece of land that has been sold in this way actually go on to obtain planning permission. Every single customer has lost their money in what was a horrendous investment. (Bold by ed)

Although for a relatively small total 'at least £1.7 million compared to the £35 million involved in the Countrywide Land £35 million fraud, it has some of the same hallmarks – land sold on the virtually impossible promise that it would be rezoned and investors systematically misled by a boiler room  telesales staff.
Countrywide Land sold plots of land that were touted as an investment. In reality they were worthless of next to worthless. Some of the ringleaders of this £35 million fraud were jailed on 8th March 2013, although Andrew Dunne is believed to be still in Northern Cyprus. 


Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Prime Trading 5 Ltd: not for me thanks nor Santander!

From their website: Prime Trading 5 since 2006
(misleading website was set up on 3rd November 2012)

Château d'Yquem: the 1998 is favourite investment 
wine offered by Prime Trading 5 Ltd

Prime Trading 5 Ltd is an off-the-shelf company that was formed on 24th May 2006. However, it was dormant until at least the end of May 2012. The current sole director and sole shareholder (£100) is 25-year-old Aaron Scott Britten. He was appointed on 23rd October 2012 and the company website was registered on 3rd November 2012. 

Prime Trading 5 Ltd claims on its website, agreements and in conversations to its clients that it has been trading since 2006. This is clearly false as the company actually started only two years ago and not eight as it likes to mislead its clients. 

On its website the company address is claimed to be: Prime Trading 5 Limited 3-15 Whitechapel Road, London, E1 1DU. However, the more likely trading address is: Onega House, 112 Main Road, Sidcup, Kent DA14 6NE.

investdrinks has received two complaints about this company. Both relate to its blunt and repeated refusal to refund money sent to the company to buy wine and then subsequently cancelled. Prime Trading 5 Ltd has refused to accept that bottled wine is covered by The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013, which came into force on 13th June 2014. 

Prime Trading 5 Ltd's attempt to get 
clients to sign away their statutory rights 

From the agreement:
'I confirm that the above order details are correct. I confirm that I have read & understand these terms & accept these in full for the above order. I understand that by signing below a legally binding contract will be in force.

In view of the Product, I understand and agree that I do not have any rights to the statutory cooling off period.' 

They have further maintained that the client can sign their statutory rights away (see above). According, in a phone conversation recorded on 1st December, Michael Scott, Prime Trading 5's Compliance Officer, told an elderly client's daughter (AB) that if you 'sign the agreement you don't have a leg to stand on'. 

Michael Scott, which may or may not be his real name (Aaron Scott Britten?), is right about not having 'a leg to stand on' but it is the company who is legless and not the client as you cannot sign away your statutory rights – in this instance the right of cancellation. One has to question Mr Scott's qualifications to be the Compliance Officer as he appears to be relying on law invented by Prime Trading 5 Ltd and not the law of England & Wales that their T&Cs say governs the client agreement.

Aaron Scott Brittten is relying on part of Paragraph 28 d of the Act. However, all three of the clauses (i, ii, iii) have to apply for there to be an exemption from cancellation for bottled wine. Crucially the wines that Prime Trading Ltd are selling can be delivered within 30 days (as set out in clause ii) as Michael Scott assured AB that all three cases purchased were in Prime Trading 5's account at LCB.  

Prime Trading 5 Ltd is now trying to insist (see email below) that AB sets up a private account at LCB and arranges to transfer the wines out of Prime Trading 5 Ltd's account into theirs. Instead of this pantomime Aaron Scott Brittten and Prime Trading 5 Ltd should refund the money in full in the statutory 14 days from receipt of the cancellation order.   

Email from Prime Trading 5 Ltd 19.29 2nd December 2014:   
“Following the conversation with your daughters Prime Trading 5 can confirm that for us to proceed in any way the stock needs to be transferred into your personal account. We have spent many hours explaining the same thing and we still haven managed to achieve anything.  Prime Trading 5 request William Newell opens his account asap so we can transfer stock into his account. We at prime trading 5 achieve to offer customer service which is second to none but we cant spend over 3/4 hours on the phone explaining the same thing over and over again. We will have no further contact until your account is opened which will allow us to proceed in managing stock in the future.” 

Actually the only way to proceed is for Prime Trading 5 Ltd and Aaron Scott Britten to comply with the law and refund the money. It is bizarre that they are being so obdurate over this!      
Another client (JH) has contacted me  It appears that it isn't just some of clients of Prime Trading 5 Ltd, who have issues with the company. JH paid an initial deposit £2000 and then arranged for the balance (£48,000) to be processed through his bank – Santander. However, the bank was suspicious – stopped the payment and referred the transaction to their fraud investigation team. JH then demanded his £2000 back from Prime Trading 5 Ltd, who appear to be treating it as a non-returnable deposit. Again the company is in complete contravention of 2013 The Consumer Contracts Law. Sole director Aaron Scott Britten might find it illuminating to read Chapter 2: Offences. 

Just received (3.12.14) Prime Trading 5 Ltd's agreement with JH, which he refused to sign. Just to show how 'professional' this company is they couldn't even spell his name correctly! When Santander blocked the balance Prime Trading 5 told JH it would take two weeks to process the refund. This is now due – Mr Aaron Scott Britten.       

'We arrange for your Product to be stored in our bonded 
warehouse account at London City Bond, Olympus 91-101, 
River Road, Barking, IG11 0EG ("Facility"), 
which specialises in the long-term storage of fine wine'  
In their terms & conditions 'Bonded Warehouse' Aaron Scott Britten and Prime Trading 5 Ltd show their grasp of how the fine wine market is organised. They tell clients that their wine will be at River Road in Barking. It won't as LCB's specialist fine wine storage is a few hours drive north at Burton-on-Trent.    

I'm going to follow Santander's keen instinct and have nothing to do with Prime Trading 5 Ltd.