Crimes of Persuasion

Schemes, scams, frauds.

Price Stone / Atlantic Capital Partners GMBH Overseas Boiler Room Stock Scam Operation

05/07 - (Times UK ) A huge "boiler room" share fraud with as many as 10,000 suspected victims is being investigated by the City of London Police.

The force revealed yesterday that it was inquiring into a German-based scam that offered shares in two allegedly fraudulent companies.

More than 2,000 people are reported to have been duped into buying shares in the "businesses" – the Price Stone Group and Atlantic Capital Partners GMBH.

The police are urging victims to contact them, believing that as many as 10,000 people could have been tricked.

The German investigation is part of a nationwide operation, funded by agencies including the Serious Organised Crime Agency, to catch those behind the growing threat of investment scams.

Victims are cold-called by fake stockbrokers who use high-pressure sales techniques to persuade them to buy shares in worthless, nonexistent or near-bankrupt companies.

Often, the fraudsters will claim that the fake company is preparing to unveil a major discovery that will send its shares surging.

The "boiler room" is a rented space from which salespeople telephone hundreds of people a day. The targets are often obtained from shareholder registers at Companies House.

Some of the frauds already uncovered by the police have been bringing in as much as £600,000 a month.

So far this year, four British firms that were helping overseas boiler rooms have been closed by the Financial Services Authority.

The City watchdog said that it receives more than 100 calls a month from victims of the scams.

Research by the FSA last year found that one quarter of victims were "groomed" for six months before being persuaded to hand over money. The average amount lost was £20,000.

City Police want to trace anyone who has been a victim of these frauds.

It is asking anyone who may have purchased shares from "The Price Stone Group" or "Atlantic Capital Partners GMBH" to call its economic crime department on 020 7601 6999 or email the Operation Archway team at operation-archway@cityoflondon.pnn.