On Friday I was contacted by WV, whose late father unfortunately a number of years ago bought some wine from scam investment companies. She had recently received a letter (see part below) sent to her late father’s address by Storage Resources.
The letter from ‘Paul Foley, Director’ claims that Storage Resources has wine in its storage facility belonging to clients of Imperial Fine Wines Ltd. It is now possible for clients to claim their outstanding funds, except for those whose ‘holdings have unfortunately been sold by the director of Imperial Fine Wines Ltd’. The clients will be reimbursed through ‘Equity Partners Group’ who apparently ‘have been appointed and authorised by the Insolvency Service to assist in the sale of assets and the reimbursement of client capital. (Equity Partners Group – Tel: 0203 488 8049)’.
Foley explains that the delay in clients getting their funds back is because of ‘the liquidation of Imperial Fine Wines’ ‘predominantly due to the pending high court claim held against the company and its sole director (Mr Pan Wong)’.
WV was told that there was ‘£43,750 from wine they have sold but I need to pay £3500 to get that money. I need to pay Equity Partners Group’. She was told that the £3500 would go into an escrow account and was refundable once the transfer of the capital sum was completed. WV duly received documentation from ‘Equity Partners Group Ltd’ with a letter signed by the ‘director’. WV thought this arrangement was strange so contacted me.
There are a number of very curious aspects to this ‘narrative’.
So where to start? Well let’s first have a look at Imperial Fine Wines Ltd. The company was founded in November 2012 with Pan Pan Wong, who lives in Hong Kong, as the sole director. The company filed accounts for every year from 2013 through to 2017. On 15.4.2018 Wong applied to have the company voluntarily struck off, which duly happened on 7th August 2018. Curiously Storage Resources fail to mention that Imperial Fine Wines Ltd never traded – all the filed accounts were for a dormant company. Thus there was no liquidation process and no high court claim either against the company or its sole director.
Nor, of course, was there any wine to be sold. The £43,750 cannot exist either: it is just bait for an advance fee fraud.
Now let us turn our attention to Storage Resources. It is just as well there is no wine because Storage Resources does not have a bonded warehouse facility in Harlow.
No storage facility in Harlow – surely there must be some mistake as their website waxes lyrical over the ideal conditions they offer for storing wine. Time to compare and contrast:
Fine wine often improves with time, but ageing in the wrong conditions can irreversibly compromise your collection and investment. At 55° we understand how the wine evolves in the bottle.
Our facility’s 20-inch thick walls and insulated interior walls are supplemented by refrigeration for an ideal cellar environment. The sturdy stone building also protects wine from potentially harmful natural light and vibration.
The key to proper wine storage is providing an ideal and unchanging environment, one that allows the wine to age slowly and gracefully.
Climate: It is generally agreed that temperatures from 55° to 59° allow wines to develop at an optimum rate. Higher temperatures will age wine prematurely, devaluing and shortening a wine’s lifespan. 55°’s cellar features thermostat-controlled refrigeration which provides excellent air circulation (important for controlling mildew) and ensures even temperature distribution throughout.
Light: Light can prematurely age wine, even when the exposure is very brief. Our stone cellar prevents natural light penetration; we use low-intensity lighting throughout to provide the greatest degree of protection.
Vibration: Vibration can affect the equilibrium and development of wine. Our solid stone walls and concrete flooring minimize movement within the cellar.
Security: For the utmost protection, our facility is equipped with state-of-the-art infrared motion detectors and security alarm systems. Each locker is secured with an individual padlock and key, and all conditions are monitored 24 hours a day.’
Compare this text from 55˚:
With the exception of ‘Built in 1889 as a brandy storage warehouse’ the rest is a direct copy of 55˚, a wine storage facility in Napa, California that was established 15 years ago.
Not only have Storage Resources purloined text from 55˚ they have also pinched their photos:
Storage Resources’ website:
In summary Storage Resources have in fact copied texts from three different Californian storage facilities – 55˚, Armored Storage in Lane County and Vinfolio – plus just for good measure copied a text from London City Bond about deliveries. Amusingly whoever did the copying for Storage Resources forgot to take out the Californian place names such as Eugene and Lane County – somewhat of a giveaway.
However, the most glaring error is to have left in text regarding the 2014 Californian earthquake – the first time I was aware that Harlow in the UK was also affected by the tremors:
Storage Resources: 2014 Napa Earthquake – ‘only 17 were damaged’
Vinfolio: 2014 Napa Earthquake – ‘only 17 were damaged’
Finally what about the Equity Partners Group Ltd? At first sight this company’s apparent involvement is a bit of a puzzle, especially given the Storage Resources tale about funds available from wine sold by a company that never traded. The answer is, however, simple. Just as Storage Resources has used texts from four storage companies, they have cloned Equity Partners Group Ltd and taken over its identity in a classic scam.
Equity Partners Group Ltd was founded in May 2009. Its registered office is at accountants Aston Shaw in Norwich and the company appears to be based in Great Yarmouth.
A Google search throws up an address at 1 Trafalgar Square, Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5BW with a London phone number. Interestingly the supposed ‘Equity Partners Group’ website that was accessible on Saturday has been unobtainable since Sunday. This website claimed that Equity Partners Group Ltd is a financial services company offering funds along with advice on ISAs and pensions. Naturally the fake company isn’t approved by the FCA (Financial Services Authority) to offer financial advice. The ‘Equity Partners Group’ website was created on 12th March 2021 the day after the Storage Resources website was created – what a coincidence!
From ‘Equity Partners’ Terms & Conditions:
‘1. Our Services
The clincher that the identity of Equity Partners Group Ltd has been cloned by the fraudsters behind Storage Resources is that the signature of the ‘director’ on the letter with accompanying documents sent to WV does not match the signature of the real director on documents filed with Companies House.
I suspect that Equity Partners were chosen because it has no website and its business is in an unrelated activity – not related to financial services. I should stress that I am sure that Equity Partners Group Ltd and its director are innocent victims of this scam.
Storage Resources is an advance fee fraud – please avoid!