Aussie CEO scammed out of $44,000 while investing in electric car company despite approval by ASIC

A successful Australian CEO who considers himself “pretty smart” has revealed how he was robbed of $44,000 in two highly sophisticated stock scams.

Giving his name only as Lawrence, the man has told his story to warn others that it could happen to them too, no matter how smart or educated they are.

The Melbourne father owns a regulatory compliance firm, has a graduate degree and is a regular investor in stocks.

But he was still scammed by bogus companies despite apparently having been approved by ASIC, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

Despite the success of his business, losing $44,000 took a toll on his family’s savings and he doesn’t want others to go through what he went through.

A Melbourne man has told his story of being the victim of a stock scam as a warning to others.  In the image, a file image of a distraught man looking at business information.

A Melbourne man has told his story of being the victim of a stock scam as a warning to others. In the image, a file image of a distraught man looking at business information.

The scam came about because he wanted to invest in a modern American electric car company called Rivian, which was about to go public in November 2021.

Lawrence searched online for a way to buy Rivian stock and found a supposedly UK company called Invystor who put him in contact with two different brokers.

“They organized a call from this crowd called Berenson Capital,” he said. news.com.au.

Berenson Capital, which claimed to be Australian, had a very nifty website.

A man with a British accent who called himself John Alexander spoke to Lawrence and explained the process.

It seemed legitimate and he invested $20,000 transferring the money to a Commonwealth Bank account.

Invystor also introduced Lawrence to another broker, called Kingsway Capital Limited.

He then spoke to a woman, ‘Catherine Willows’, who, like Alexander, spoke with a British accent.

She told him they had access to some Rivian initial public offering (IPO) shares, so Lawrence wired $24,655, this time to an American bank account.

An Australian man who wanted to invest in electric car maker Rivian's initial public offering was swindled out of $44,000.  In the image, the Rivian vehicles.

An Australian man who wanted to invest in electric car maker Rivian's initial public offering was swindled out of $44,000.  In the image, the Rivian vehicles.

An Australian man who wanted to invest in electric car maker Rivian’s initial public offering was swindled out of $44,000. In the image, the Rivian vehicles.

Not only did he do the two transfers without thinking, but he did what he thought was due diligence first.

Lawrence checked with ASIC that the brokerage firms were properly licensed and searched online for reviews of them and their UK counterparts.

Kingsway Capital Limited is a real company, but the one I was dealing with was a fake company imitating the real thing.

Lawrence said that after doing all the verifications he felt were necessary and still getting scammed, he felt stupid.

“It was a really disturbing experience. It was so sophisticated, that was what I couldn’t get over,” he said.

At the end of its first day as a public company on November 11, 2021, Rivian was valued at nearly $130 billion (US$88 billion).

Investors have been warned about scammers “cloning” legitimate companies to rip off stock buyers. In the photo, a file image of a scammer

Lawrence should have been in the money, but he didn’t hear anything from any of the brokerage firms through which he thought he had bought shares.

When he tried to call Berenson Capital, the number rang and ‘John Alexander’ had apparently disappeared.

The day after the IPO, Lawrence received an email stating that Catherine Willows’ email address was no longer working.

Then he learned that not only had he made no money from Rivian’s public release, but he was also $44,000 in the red.

The UK equivalent of ASIC, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), subsequently warned investors about the “cloning” of Kingsway Capital by criminals.

“Almost all companies and individuals carrying out financial services activities in the UK must be authorized or registered by us,” the notice said.

‘This company is not authorized or registered by us, but has targeted people in the UK, claiming to be an authorized company. This is what we call a “clone company”.

The FCA explained that cloned companies can use the name and other details of genuine companies to mislead investors.

Rivian, once expected to rival Tesla in electric vehicle production, has seen its shares drop nearly 67 percent since going public.

Rivian, once expected to rival Tesla in electric vehicle production, has seen its shares drop nearly 67 percent since going public.

Rivian, once expected to rival Tesla in electric vehicle production, has seen its shares drop nearly 67 percent since going public.

Disgustingly, the scammers asked Lawrence to prove he was who he claimed to be by sending them his passport details, which he did.

This now exposes you to being scammed again if criminals, for example, obtain loans and credit cards using your name and details.

The only ray of light in the story is that he got more than half of his money back.

Bendigo Bank, which made the transfer to the US account, refunded the $24,655 he sent.

However, a year later, the other $20,000 seems to be gone and there is no chance of getting it back.

However, things haven’t been going well for Rivian either.

It recalled nearly all of its vehicles last month for loose fasteners that could affect drivers’ drivability.

Once expected to rival Tesla in electric vehicle production, Rivian’s share value has fallen by nearly 67 percent since it went public.

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