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Helping hands for business


Quick riches are on the menu - if you pay in advance.


High pressure sales tactics part investors from their cash with promises of fabulous returns, but the only dish served at the Phantom Diner is cold turkey.




The extract below is reproduced by kind permission of Guardian Newspapers Limited



If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Just after reading the article last week on the list of foreign share-pushers to be avoided that was supplied by the Financial Services Authority, I received a call from a firm called Richmond International which claimed to be based in Dominica.


The caller claimed that I had registered for information on a website in respect of share and investment options. He thought I would be interested in a Nasdaq stock that "was set to go stratospheric". A second person, called a "senior adviser" said Richmond was regulated in Dominica.


He wanted me to buy into a company called SBS Interactive. He said it was about to enter a very lucrative deal with Sony.


What does this company do? Should I buy the shares? And is Richmond fine to deal with as it was not on the FSA list?

PB, London


The FSA list featured a large number of companies warned against in this column. But it was far from complete. New share-pushing operations start up all the time - often old operations with a new name and, ostensibly, a new location. The FSA list has some very old names.


It is hard to know what "Dominica regulation" means. The US Treasury Financial Crimes Enforcement Network warned investors in July 2000 to give "enhanced scrutiny" to transactions there. It said banks are "subject to no effective supervision" nor need they report "suspicious transactions". Moreover, the US Treasury says Dominica offers a safe haven for criminals. So why is Richmond holed up there?


SBS Interactive, formerly Cosmetics Consultants and Lomillo Consultants, is a Toronto-based company registered in Florida. It is not quoted on Nasdaq.


It claims to have developed interactive software for television sets but there is no confirmation that Sony has any substantial interest. The company recently issued 50m shares at $0.001 each.

An investment would be little different from burning your cash.


Guardian Unlimited Guardian Newspapers Limited 2003

Guardian/Capital Letters 10 May 2003

The above extract supplements Tony Levene's earlier expose of overseas boiler rooms.

HotTalk but Chilly Prospects




To follow.