A website that appears to be promoting a crude Ponzi scheme has ruffled feathers at international financial advisory business deVere. Nigel Green, deVere’s CEO, released a press release this week claiming that the site “is a blatant – and rather bad – attempt to try to discredit our enviable reputation”.
The site – bottomlinegroup.co.za – is offering clients the opportunity to “earn double of your investment in two weeks”. It says that it generates these profits “from stock trading, property sales, JSE and foreign exchange”.
Bottomline Group claims to be a “registered investment entity” and underwritten by “Devere Group”. The FSP number it uses on the site also belongs to deVere Acuma, which is deVere’s South African business.
In the release however, Green, was adamant that the business “is not affiliated with, operated by, or owned by deVere Group”. He added that the site is “incredibly amateur” with “multiple examples of incorrect grammar”.
Further investigations by Moneyweb revealed that the company registration number used by Bottomline Group does not exist. It also appears that the address given on its Facebook page – 76 Main Road, Wynberg, Cape Town – is fictitious.
Numerous phone calls by Moneyweb to the number given on Bottonline Group’s Facebook page, Facebook messages and messages through its website all went unanswered. The company that hosts and designed the site, Clarkstyle, would also not provide any further information on who was behind it, even after Moneyweb highlighted that it was probably criminally fraudulent.
deVere was not, however, satisfied with saying that the site had nothing to do with it. Green went further to allege that it is part of an orchestrated plot against the company.
“This bogus website is just the latest in a series of alarming events,” he noted. “Indeed, it would seem that deVere, the most successful international advisory company in the country, is coming under attack by setting up fake sites and even creating fake client complaints.
“It can be reasonably assumed this is from disgruntled former employees whose contracts we terminated and/or rival firms,” Green added. “It’s a sad reflection of some within the SA finance industry when they feel compelled to attack a proactive, forward-thinking, successful company such as deVere, which is fully authorised, regulated and licenced.” (sic)
However, when asked by Moneyweb to substantiate these claims, deVere’s company spokesperson would only say that “we have evidence and we intend taking action”. When asked what the nature of that evidence was, deVere did not provide a response.
Green’s comments should also be viewed in light of the fact that deVere is under investigation by the Financial Services Board (FSB) in South Africa. Moneyweb is also aware of a number of complaints lodged against the company with the FAIS Ombud.