19 November 2020

Private investment company impersonated by scammers

Private investment company impersonated by scammers

GRC Investments Limited is a private investment company based in Christchurch that scammers have sought to exploit by impersonating them.

The FMA issued a warning in September that an investment scam appeared to be operating under a similar name – G.R.C Trustee. 

G.R.C Trustee’s website falsely claimed it was owned, operated and regulated in New Zealand, and gave the same Christchurch address as the New Zealand business. It even linked to a copy of GRC Investments Ltd’s Certificate of Incorporation, to further fool investors.

In fact, GRC Investments had nothing to do with the impostor and never sought public investors. It was solely used for private investing by its owner, Garry Carleton.

Mr Carleton was first made aware of the impersonation was when the FMA contacted him.

“I was annoyed and worried when I first found out,” Mr Carleton says. “Annoyed that investors’ money could be stolen and concerned that somebody might turn up on my doorstep and threaten my family if we didn’t pay what they’d lost to the scammers.”

Fortunately, there were steps Garry could take to mitigate the risk.

“Initially I felt powerless to do anything, but then I remembered the Companies Office has added optional fields to their website that let me add extra details about my company. I’ve used those to add a warning about the scam, should anybody look up my company.”

“Sure enough, as soon as I did this, the scammers’ website stopped linking to my company’s entry on the Companies Office website.”

“I’m now looking at updating my other companies’ details, to advise that they are private companies not dealing with the public.”

He recommends other companies do the same and is in no doubt why such scammers are stealing Kiwi companies’ identifies.

“We have a good reputation because the vast majority of our businesses operate honestly and responsibly. The scammers are simply abusing that to steal other people's money.”

 

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