Since September this year, a couple of forums have been buzzing about a peculiar case including a cold calling scheme perpetrated by Fortitude Asset Consultants. According to the information, provided by investors, Fortitude Asset Consultants have been making phone calls predominantly to shareholders of Verdant Technology Corp. (VTHC.PK) and Total Apparel Group, Inc. (TLAG.PK), for about two months now.
According to the most recent data, VTHC and TLAG shares trade for $0.03 and $0.0007 respectively. The fraudsters, however, have been approaching shareholders of the mentioned companies with an offer to sell their shares at an “extremely tempting” price. One of the investors, for example, states that he was offered $9.35 per share for his VTHC stock, which is 31,000% percent higher than the current quote. The investor, however, was required to pay a commission fee for this extremely “helpful” service, which had to be paid in advance.
Fortitude Asset Consultants, as indicated by its website, is a provider of financial and investment strategies. The company boasts of having helped many start up and growing companies in many industries to optimize their business. This achievement is highly doubtful, since the company has actually established its website only two months ago, in Aug. 2010, as indicated by domain registry data. This period however, surprisingly coincides with the time the company had started executing its fraud scheme.
The company has already been branded as a suspicious one in the United Kingdom. As a result of the more and more complaints about the activity of Fortitude Asset Consultants, the UK Financial Service Agency has included the company in the list of unauthorized overseas firms.
As far as SEC is concerned, it seems that they are very familiar with such type of fraud. In this regard, the SEC describes this scheme as an Advance Fee Fraud. According to the official definition, Advance Fee Fraud takes place when “an investor is asked to pay a fee up front or in advance of receiving any proceeds, money, stock or warrants in order for the deal to go through. The advance fee scheme generally targets investors who already purchased underperforming securities, offering to arrange a lucrative sale of those securities, but first requiring the payment of an “advance fee”.
In conclusion, always remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it most probably is a scam. In addition, penny stocks always provide for a plethora of fraud schemes, so be sure to read our guide to investing in penny stocks.