by Dina-Perla Portnaar
The Ashton Whiteley Scam illustrates how financial crime really works. Not a lot of personal cases were shared with the public before in order to make financial crime tangible. Here is an outline of the events given by one of the many victims of the Ashton Whiteley Scam that took place a couple of years ago. The man shared his story with me, which we will share in a couple of articles. Here is part one.
It’s just a typical morning as any other morning when the phone rings. The lady from the front desk tells me that an English-speaking woman would like to speak with me. Who am I? I am a man in his mid-fifties who owns a small business and is always curious to hear more about new developments. What risks could there be to having one phone call and for listening to what the lady has to say?
The lady calls herself Julia Wright. She kindly introduces herself and the company she works for, which in this case is an investment and wealth management firm, named Ashton Whiteley and located in what she indicates as ‘the soon to be most active financial region in the world’. She is not pushy and very polite. I ask her if she would be so kind as to email me some company details and non-binding information on the investment opportunity. The conversation ends with the lady asking if it would be alright if one of the senior managers could call me back in a couple of weeks.
Just a couple of hours later, I receive a very professional looking email referring to our conversation. Attached to the email is an information leaflet on the investment opportunity of Electronic Arts; a company that later this year will be making a major announcement. Due to research and personal contacts throughout the entire financial world, the experts at Ashton Whiteley are able to offer these extraordinary opportunities. No surprise there, they say.
Initial investment is around $ 10.000
Ten days later, I receive another phone call from Ashton Whiteley from another lady called Mrs. Silly Mcgrath. She assures me that everything is safe and sound. When it comes to new customers, they only accept small investments, as they understand that we must get to know each other first and that Ashton Whiteley needs to come up with proof points to showcase what they can do. Therefore, the initial investment is around $ 10.000.
In the meantime, I am checking financial platforms and media, social media and so on. The search results are fabulous, bringing up an overwhelming amount of press releases by and about Ashton Whiteley. In fact, there are so many that I am almost starting to wonder if I have been living in a cave for the past few months and have been missing out on all of this information about relevant topics via the media. Wow, it’s that impressive and professional, I think to myself. I am falling for the proposal, which in fact is a scam.
Once I agree to accept the proposal, they inform me that for compliance reasons the trader cannot finalise the deals and I will either be transferred or called back by the allocations officer named Mr. William Dank. He will first verify all the data. Then, he will send me an order confirmation from the International Telegraphic Transfer Form. Next thing I know, I am wiring the money.
After three days, there is even a payment confirmation which looks official. I am left with the impression that I will actually hold shares in an existing company, which of course is not true. I do not know anything at this point, but as a victim of a major scam, I am hooked.
The shares – that I do not possess – can now be sold at a profit
Sometime later, a very nice person from Ashton Whiteley calls me to check in and see if everything is on track. That person tells me that they expect the company’s value to rise massively in about three months’ time. Nothing happens in the following weeks. Then several weeks before the big value explosion, I will receive a call and I will get offered a very lucrative deal.
The shares – that I do not actually possess – can now be sold at a profit. However, this can only be the case if I will trade them for another stock. A company that will offer their shares on the stock market and as we all know, these IPO’s can be profitable. Thus, the stock I have plus the fake profit can be traded for a fake stock at a price of €2 each and ‘solely’ at a 1% commission for Ashton Whiteley.
Also, in order to be able to make this deal, I can only buy in large blocks of shares. This means that in order to get the fake profit, I will have to buy extra shares. Again, I am losing an amount of around $15.000 as a result of this scam.