Investors should be aware of a new, more complex scam that tries to get wealthy people to put their money into fake business opportunities.
A company called Aspen Asset Management AG, which is based in Switzerland, is running the scam out of The World Trade Centre in Seoul, South Korea. The following is a list of their addresses:
+82 2 3143 9360
Seoul’s World Trade Center
South Korea, Seoul
+41 44 551 89 00
Baarerstrasse 43, CH-6300
On the surface, they look like a trustworthy wealth management company based in Switzerland with smart Western expats who have been trained in the financial field. Their website address is www.aspen-am.com.
A clean, easy-to-understand website with a wide range of Wealth Investment Services for both individuals and big organizations. But a website that doesn’t show real people and their credentials could be a sign that something is wrong.
Being a member of a Swiss Anti-Money Laundering association looks good for credibility, but it does nothing to keep your money safe or protect you from the bad acts of this so-called Wealth Manager, so don’t let this trick you.
When it comes to managing its image, Aspen Management AG doesn’t have any direct complaints or reviews. When you look for ratings and reviews, you find articles made by Aspen Asset Management over the past few years about the financial markets.
Don’t be fooled, these pieces are just propaganda meant to make the company seem more trustworthy and popular. But these articles don’t say anything about the company’s skills or lack thereof. They also don’t say anything about whether the company plans to scam its customers. Also, don’t be fooled by how long the company has been around. Just because the company was registered in Switzerland for the first time in 1983 doesn’t mean they are honest and have never committed fraud.
Unfortunately, because the scam is so complex, I worry that the situation they put people in makes it almost impossible for them to get their money back.
How does the scam with Aspen Asset Management work?
Aspen Asset Management Ag is a wealth manager that acts as a middleman. It gives its clients advice on private equity deals all over Asia. Aspen Asset Management AG will suggest to its new clients that they invest in a private company that it says is a target for a takeover by a hedge fund. They will tell you that you can buy shares for $1, but they can’t sell them until the price is much higher, like $2.85.
They will confirm the planned sale date and time and tell you that the hedge fund has already put the money in the escrow account, so there is no chance that the sale won’t happen. When the shares sell, they will give you a receipt and a statement of account. You will also be able to check with the share register of the company whose shares you bought to make sure that you have bought the shareholding.
When you follow up with the Hedge Fund a week or two after you’ve sent them your money to make sure the sale has gone through, they’ll say yes at first, but then say that the sale hasn’t gone through because of something outside of their control.
They will say that the transaction can go through, but you will need to buy more shares to reach the amount needed to make the transaction happen. Once you fall for this, they will come up with another reason the next time, which they call “equity bonding.” This means that they will buy more shares in the target company, which gives the hedge fund a bond to make sure the deal goes through. Rinse and do it again and again. In the end, they will tell you that you can’t take part in the trade to the Hedge Fund because you don’t meet the requirements. This means that you are stuck with the shares.
The real trouble, though, is that the company whose shares you are buying is mostly worthless. Again, if you look into their information, you’ll find that it’s a company that has been registered for a few years and has a website. Don’t let news releases you find on the internet trick you. It’s doubtful that anyone will work on it and for good reason…
So what does this mean for Aspen Investment Management AG? First, it’s the traditional wealth management fees, which are allowed as long as they don’t have any other conflicts. However, they are selling a bad investment at an inflated price and are likely taking a big chunk of the upside. Worse, the client has no way out, and Aspen Asset Management AG can use the statement that not all deals make money.
As soon as the client asks for a trade out of a stock trade, they will tell them that they need to finish the Hedge Fund trade first before they can think about selling your shares for a part of what you paid for them. Charlatans will put you in a difficult financial situation and then offer to help you out.
This is exactly what happened to me. The “account manager” was a man named Christian Lawrence, who seemed like a slick used car salesman and was, in my opinion, perfect for the part of a con man on this occasion.
Stay away from Aspen Asset Management AG. They are not trustworthy because they are running a fraud scheme and are being looked into by officials in South Korea and other places. If anyone has had a similar experience with this company, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
We hope to hear more about this scam in the future, and we hope that this will keep other people from making the same mistakes we did.
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