Avoid this investment scam

With the stockmarket going up and down like a 
yo-yo, what could be more helpful than a computer program that takes all the hard work out of picking winners? How much would you be prepared to pay to 
get your hands on such a marvel? £45? £450?

about £4,500? This last figure is how much the stockpicking program offered by City of London software company JBC would set you back. It commands this price because JBC declares it to be “the world’s number one complete investor solution”, which can help you “take control of the profits that banks would otherwise enjoy from your money” and “secure your financial future”.

However, this is not the first firm to make such claims. For years, MCI Technologies has operated from an address in London’s Oxford Street, selling “an amazing and innovative program” that will also set you back a few thousand pounds.

And PCAA, in Canary Wharf, has made identical claims, announcing that “age, education or gender are no longer barriers to creating wealth”. Just buy its software, pop it into your home computer and watch the profits roll in.

Then there is GSI Trader, in Regent Street in London, which boasts “unrivalled experience and expertise”. Apparently, it’s a “world leader” in developing stockmarket trading tools.

Yet not one of these firms is licensed to offer financial advice. All their programs can do is sift through lists of share prices and pick out those shares that match the price and details that you yourself have fed in. They are the highly priced equivalent of running your finger down the shares page of the Financial Times.

Moneywise warned against MCI Technologies as long ago as December 2001. I wrote then that if its bosses really had come up with a computer program that picked winners, they would be basking on a beach somewhere and not selling it to outsiders.

Since then, the company has been criticised by the Advertising Standards Authority for misleading customers. Not only this, but as Moneywise went to press, it had failed to file accounts that were due as long ago as April last year, and Companies House officials were talking about striking it off.

PCAA, which copied much of MCI’s advertising material and suggested it could turn a £1,000 investment into £53,000, has already vanished. It was dissolved more than a year ago.

That leaves the two current competitors, JBC and GSI. But are they competitors at all? A glance at their respective websites shows they are virtually identical.

They’re also the same in another important respect: they are both scams.

JBC says it has won awards for three years running from the Stock Market Council. GSI makes exactly the same claim, except that its awards come from the Stock Market Commission. But neither of these organisations exist – they cannot be traced or contacted.

It would be nice to know who is behind these companies, but neither has registered with Companies House – which means they are not limited companies.

JBC and GSI could, of course, be trading names used by another company or by individuals – except that anyone who uses a trading name is legally obliged to show their true name and address, just in case an unhappy customer wants to lodge a complaint, or even sue them.

Both companies have failed to show any such details, which makes them both unsafe and unlawful. My advice is to steer well clear.

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