One question I posed to Jim and Natalie at last Thursday’s Vista Group meeting was: have either of you been getting calls from people trying to sell shares? Natalie said no, and Jim replied that the people calling me were the subject of a movie, Boiler Room.
It certainly ﬁts. Of the six companies that have called me ﬂogging shares this year, they all have the same MO. They all ask the same questions. They ask me what I have invested in and how much I would put toward them. Four of the six were American and called at the worst times, because they hadn’t gone to school the day they studied the existence of time zones. The ﬁfth was also American but did know about time zones. The sixth claimed to be based in London.
In Boiler Room, it turns out that the so-called stock broking operation was a Maﬁa front, and if the methods are so close globally, I am not surprised.
They also go on about their successful stock picks. I could also tell you the number of times I guessed the gender of my friends’ unborn children. I would simply not tell you the number of times I got it wrong.
They remind me a lot of the spam emails that used to go around telling people to invest in certain stock, possibly to push up the price. With cheaper international calling, they have turned to telephony to do the same thing.
They all give their names, which is interesting. The latest company, where I heard from two people, told me theirs. If you venture on to Google, there is a grand total of two references to that company—hardly conﬁdence-inspiring. Both are at their domain.
There are no sites that refer to them.
I won’t name these folks since I treat all calls, including those where I cannot prove for a fact the caller is dodgy, as conﬁdential. I have no proof either way so I’ll have to presume innocence. But it’s absolutely stupid to refer someone to a website when a Google search is a standard procedure nowadays. Check the website and you can tell it’s totally off-the-shelf. The copy is stolen off an existing website—in fact, I found one which had identical content, save for the company name. The photographs are deﬁnitely from a library.
Secondly, the company they expect me to purchase stock in is equally laughable. I don’t know how these chaps get listed but maybe the requirements for the Nasdaq or Dow in the US aren’t very stringent—or the SEC is so busy that it never gets round to investigating.
If you look at the URLs of both the “ﬁnancial advisers” and the “energy company”, they follow exactly the same convention. Coincidence?
The latter company has a pretty clear Whois record and it doesn’t take long to reveal everything you need to know about its CEO.
Go a bit further and you can ﬁnd that every piece of communication about the company has been put there by itself. While it might appear at a respectable domain like the Reuter one, it’s a press release. There are no references to the company penned by an independent body.
I did think there was something funny when the MO was identical for all six ﬁrms. If Jim’s right, then I know why. And I’ll be telling them just what I think of them next time they call.
If you get these calls, ask for their information straight away. Ten to one they’ll ﬁt with what I’ve written above. Posted by Jack Yan, 22:15
I'm 95% sure that JTMarlin (the dodgy firm in Boiler Room) is not a Mafia front in the film. It's a plain old pump and dump.
No worries! You didn't have to post the comment by the way. Just thought I'd let you know...Post a Comment
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