Scammers operating out of the UK, but with a Bulgarian link, are selling an online trading platforms to South African. Picture: GETTY IMAGES
Scammers operating out of the UK, but with a Bulgarian link, are selling an online trading platforms to South African. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has urged the public to stay away from companies that are not authorised to conduct financial services or provide advice, and has named and shamed companies flouting the law.

Some companies make ridiculous and unrealistic promises of investment returns while others appear to be outright, old-fashioned frauds.

Ivory Option, operating out of the UK and with a residential address in Sofia, Bulgaria, is offering a share-trading platform but when it receives your money you get a dummy platform instead.

Gladstone Finance operates out of SA, and is represented by Theresa and Caroline Steyn. They claim to represent the FSB — the former name of the FSCA) and work alongside an organisation called Old National Bank, with a Herbert Eley. They offer loans, take an “enclosure” fee,  then make off with your money.

Feel Good Holdings has been giving consumers every reason to feel bad, offering returns on investments of 100%, while not even being registered as a financial services provider (FSP) and therefore operating in contravention of the Financial Advisory and Intermediary Services (Fais) Act. 

“Ivory Option is based in the UK and it is not authorised to render financial services in SA. The FSCA inquired with the office of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK and they confirmed that Ivory Option is not authorised and they have a warning notice posted about the firm that they are running a scam,” the FSCA said in a statement released on June 14.

In the UK’s FCA warning the address of Ivory Option is listed, bizarrely, as: 6th Floor, 1000 Sofia Bulgaria, Patryn Ltd, 5 Secretary’s Lane, Gibraltar UK, United Kingdom, Landmark Building, 14 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd.

Regarding Feel Good, the FSCA said: “It was brought to the attention of the FSCA that Feel Good Holdings is offering investors a 100% return on their investments.

“According to the FSCA’s records, Feel Good Holdings is not an authorised FSP nor a representative of an authorised FSP, and there is no record of an application to become an authorised FSP with the FSCA. Therefore, they are not authorised to render financial services as contemplated in the Fais Act.”

Gladstone, said the FSCA, claims “to represent the ‘Financial Services Board’, is offering loans in exchange of a certain fee percentage they claim is an ‘enclosure fee’. They offer these bogus loans using the e-mail address,”

In all three instances the FSCA has warned the public to stay away. Remember, always conduct a due diligence and check whether a company you are considering doing business with is registered and authorised to conduct financial services or offer advice.

Authorised FSPs are bound by the law to abide by a general code of conduct, and there are certain checks and balances that need to be in place before they are licensed and receive their FSP number.

Always check the FSCA website or call their offices to find out if a company has an FSP number, if they are using a legitimate number, and whether they are legally allowed to conduct financial services.

Finally, if something sounds too good to be true, such as 100% returns, then it generally is. Stick with tried, trusted and reputable firms and advisers and build a sound, long-term investment strategy based on your own personal circumstances and needs.