Wine Name:

Monday, 29 August 2016

Jack Williams, legal adviser – who was his mysterious client?

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Frederick Achom – law finally catches up with lionised banned director

Frederick Achom pictured 
with then Prime Minister David Cameron 

 Report from FT Adviser 4th August 2016

In late July 2016 the law finally caught up with convicted fraudster and banned director Frederick Achom for running a wine investment company while disqualified from acting as a director. Achom admitted to running now bust APW Asset Management Ltd despite his 11-year directorship ban. 

The FT Adviser reported that Achom received a six-month suspended sentence and was ordered to pay just under £1 million from his profits within three months or face a jail sentence of up to five years. 

Although it is good to see disqualification orders being enforced, it is amazing and worrying that it has taken so long. Frederick Achom and his business partner, Boington Anthony Grant, were disqualified for their part in running 'wine investment' company – Boington & Fredericks of London Ltd – from acting as UK company directors for 11 years. The ban ran from 23rd July 2002 to 22nd July 2013. Boington & Fredericks was wound up in the public interest in 2002. 

The Bordeaux Wine Company Ltd was founded on 17.2.2002 as Freedom Finance UK Ltd changing its name to The Bordeaux Wine Company 13.5.2003. It was fairly soon apparent that Frederick Achom and Anthony Grant controlled this company and Achom was also involved in Australian Portfolio Wines Ltd (in liquidation) despite their UK directors ban. 

They made no attempt to deny their involvement

On 13th April 2010 Anthony Grant sent me a lengthy response to my post here about The Bordeaux Wine Company, Grant and Achom.  

During the 2011 trial of convicted wine investment fraudster – Paul Craven – at St Albans Crown Court, Frederick Achom was a prosecution witness. Before setting up The Bordeaux Wine Trading Company Ltd Craven had worked for Achom at The Bordeaux Wine Trading Company.  

During his director's disqualification Achom is reported to have built a multi-million business empire based around The Rosemont Group, an off-shore company. On his site Frederick Achom's Story Bordeaux Wine Company is listed as one of his companies, although it is now also called BWC Management and Consulting Partners. Its website was registered on 1.11.2012. However copyright on the site runs from 2002 (see below), the date the Bordeaux Wine Company Ltd was founded

Under UK Company Law you can be disqualified as a director for up to 15 years. During the time of disqualification you cannot be a director of any company registered in the UK or an overseas company that has connections with the UK or be involved in forming, marketing or running a company. 

According to Achom's profile on Wikipedia: 
'Members clubs and investment firms

In 2005 Achom acquired controlling interest in the Bordeaux Wine Company,[27] the company was restructured and for the past decade has traded as a partnership offering services specifically to high net-worth individuals and institutions.[28]'

If indeed, the Bordeaux Wine Company was restructured into a partnership in 2005 there is nothing at Companies House to indicate any restructuring nor any details of Achom acquiring any shares in the Bordeaux Wine Company. 

Furthermore it was significant that during the fraud trials of Paul Craven and others at St Albans Crown Court during 2011 company that Craven and others had worked for before they set up The Bordeaux Wine Trading Company was referred to as the Bordeaux Wine Company Ltd. Although I wasn't in court every day, I was there on a number of occasions and I cannot recall any mention of BWC Management & Consulting Partners.  

Remarkably during his 11 year disqualification as a UK director Achom received a number of awards for being an entrepreneur as Frederick reveals on his Linkedin profile: including in the UK Power List 2011, London's 1000 Most Influential People (2011) and UK Power List 2013. 

All in all quite an achievement for a disqualified director! And what of his partner in the Bordeaux Wine Company Ltd – Boington Anthony Grant? Did the authorities just turn a blind eye until APW Asset Management Ltd was closed in the public interest by the Manchester High Court on 21st April 2015 with debts of £16.06 million? 

Friday, 26 August 2016

Heartless, parasite Jonothan Piper to be jailed for wine investment fraud

Embassy Wine UK Ltd website:
'We have great passion for the product let us share 
the knowledge of wealth and guidance to building 
a portfolio of the most sort after wines. Enabling an attractive 
and healthy return on your investment.' 

On Tuesday 23rd August 2016 30-year-old Jonothan Piper admitted at Snaresbrook Crown Court to defrauding his investor clients and HMRC (Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs).

Piper, who posed as a wine broker, preyed on the elderly and vulnerable – cold calling and persuading them transfer their wine to his company Embassy Wine UK Ltd. Piper charged an advance fee for sales for ‘legal costs’. Once the wine was transferred Piper would become impossible to contact and the duped investor would never receive their promised money.

The fraud netted Piper at least £300,000 with one investor losing £150,000. Another investor, an elderly woman who had already been a victim of World Wide Wines Ltd, was persuaded to buy a further £33,000 worth of wine from Embassy. This included a case of 2004 Haut Brion for £10,000 in 2012, which could have been bought elsewhere for £2400. The salesman claimed it should have cost £12,000! 

Embassy offered to sell her portfolio for £60,000 – charging £20,000 in ‘legal fees’ reimbursable in seven days.   

HMRC was defrauded for £51,104 as Piper failed to declare any income between 2008 and 2014.

Embassy Wines UK Ltd was founded on 28th June 2011. It was wound up in the public interest on 3rd December 2014. Piper was the sole director and shareholder with just £1 of share capital. 
Piper has been jailed on Judges Remand and will be sentenced on 16th September 2016. I hope that Judge Louise Kamill will out Piper away for a good stretch and that Piper will be forced to repay his victims, whose life savings he looted and spent on high living including nearly £90,000 on a BMW X6 and a Range Rover Sport. Piper's expertise lay not as he claimed in fine wine but in trousering his elderly and vulnerable clients' money.  

On 17th November 2015 Piper was banned for being a UK director for 11 years.  
Over the past three years recovery room wine investment/advance fee frauds have become increasingly common. Victims of previous wine investment scam companies are contacted by new firms and offered deals on their wine portfolios at well above market price.
Some companies also make bogus claims to have taken over liquidations from legitimate companies like Grant Thornton and ‘found’ investors missing wines abroad. Invariably investors are again left empty handed.  

It is good to see that some of these heartless fraudsters – vile individuals who exploit vulnerable people – are being prosecuted.    

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Warning – Lynch & Mullin, LLP – shares in Winex-Ex Inc.

 website record for Lynch & Mullin 
– creation date 18 July 2016

Very recently in a most useful message from KP, an investor in collapsed Vinance PLC, a scam wine investment company. An impressive piece of research by KP. Two investors with closed Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd have also been contacted this month offering the exactly same share scam. 

'Dear Jim,

I wanted to warn the readers of your blog about a new scam going on:

Today I received a cold call from a chap called "Mark Schratton" from a "law firm" called Lynch & Mullin, LLP from Boston, Massachusetts.

The story made kind of sense: "You invested in Vinance PLC some time ago, it looks like those unscrupulous owners who are now all in prison* purchased shares in a company called Winex Inc. and put your name as a shareholder without you knowing as a means of routing/ stashing their investor money. As it turns out, you're in luck because you're now owner of 30,000 shares which our client is looking to buy".

I did invest in Vinance PLC, lost money on it and yes the management of that company is now in prison (or at least some of them). The chap had my contact details, my name, phone number and email. I checked the law firm's website - basic but otherwise well respectable.

Then "his colleague" sends me legal documentation advising me that I own 30,000 shares at $5 each and asks me to fill in my contact and bank details as soon as possible (best today). All looking very legit and professional.
I asked to see my share certificate - and they even produced that.

A few issues with the master plan:

  1. Lynch & Mullin LLP does not exist - there's no mention of them in the Massachusetts commercial registry
  2. Their website was only registered a month ago
  3. There are no legal articles with this firm's name anywhere to be found (Google, Law360...)
  4. They managed to produce a share certificate "from the registration authorities" (which they did not originally have) within 1 hour
  5. Winex-Ex Inc does not exist - there's no mention of them in the Nevada commercial registry (Nevada as per my "share certificate")
  6. In the legal documentation they mention some bogus government agency - the website mentioned in the document is empty (just registered). When asked about it "Mark" provided a different address which was registered only a week ago with apparently the intent for people to contact them to verify that Lynch & Mullin is an actual firm.
  7. The servers of this "US govt agency" are hosted in France... hmmm

I must say that these scams are getting quite sophisticated and it's easy to fall for them. Beware.

Best regards,'


How this advance fee scam works:
As KP says this is quite a sophisticated scam as it involved both setting up a website for a fictitious US law firm by cloning a legitimate American law firm's site and another site that purported to be a US Government securities agency.

Ex-clients of failed wine investment companies – Bordeaux Fine Wines Ltd and Vinance plc so far – are cold called by someone from American 'law firm' Lynch & Mullin,  and told that their wine company has purchased shares – see KP's story above. Staff names to date at Lynch & Mullin are Mark Schratton, James Fischer, Matthew Cohen and Andrew William Marks – probably all false names. 

Compare and contrast 

The scam Lynch & Mullin, LLP site in 'Boston'

 Carr, Morris & Graeff, PC – legitimate US law firm in Virginia and DC
site cloned by Lynch & Mullin  

More cloning ..... Lynch & Mullin above
 Carr, Morris & Graeff, P.C.

 Lynch & Mullin, LLP (scam)

Carr, Morris & Graeff, P.C. – cloned by Lynch & Mullin

Who is? Lynch & Mullin's website 
created 18th July 2016

The investor is told that these 30,000 shares in Winex-Ex Inc. are restricted and are advised to contact the International Securities and Investments Commission (ISIC). They are told that the ISIC is a US government Regulatory, who will make enquiries about removing the restriction. Investors are told that there will be a fee for removing the restriction. Lynch & Mullin send out a share certificate for 30,000 shares in Wine-Ex Inc along with transfer documents. Winex-Ex Inc does not exist, although Google does show a Winex Inc in New Jersey, which was established in 1994 and surely a legitimate company and nothing to do with these scammers.  

Certificate for 30,000 shares in Wine-Ex Inc

$150,000 transfer of shares to Lynch & Mullin  

Investor GJ contacted the ISIC and dealt with a Mr. Mark Gibson, International Affairs, and based at 277 Park Avenue, New York NY 10172. Gibson advised that the fees to derestrict the shares are

Option 1 a fee of 25c per share with the restriction removed within 10/14 days. $7500 on 30,000 shares.
Option 2 a fee 30c per share with the restriction removed within 24/48 hours. $9000 on 30,000 shares.
Anyone, who sells their 30,000 shares to Lynch & Mullins, will never see their money instead they will have had their wallets thinned by either $7500 or $9000.

International Securities and Investments Commission (ISIC).
Despite its impressive name the International Securities and Investments Commission (ISIC) is a recently created scam. Its website was created on 9th August 2016. The registrant's name is given as Jonathan Richardson, EDF Grande 2, Piso 1, Barcelona, Spain  

The real bona fide US government agency is: 
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Please note that ISIC has no connection with the Australian Government's ASIC – Australian Securities & Investments Commission. 

Update: 18.8.2016 20.35
It appears that the Lynch & Mullin website has disappeared. As anon pointed out below their website appears to have been a clone of Carr, Morris & Graeff, PC, a legitimate law firm based in Washington DC, whose website was registered in April 1997. 

Sorry the website 
cannot be found 

This is good news but it is very possible that the scammers will just set up another cloned website.  

Update: 24th August 2016 
The cloned site is back up but as replacing peddling a similar scam using shares in Eco Care Global Inc


* The four directors of Vinance Plc have all been disqualified from acting as UK directors. Simon Earl – 10 years and Simon Ford, Paul Ford, Mike Wallen – 9 years each. Details here. In February 2013 Simon Earl and Mike Wallen were jailed for their part in running a brothel and prostitution ring. Details here