Friday, 21 January 2011

Tower Hamlets - Parking Camera

While the Coalition government acts to bring local authority spending under control we will no doubt see the local government authorities increase revenues from other sources. Many London Boroughs use spy cameras to raise street parking revenues, this will no doubt get worse.
Tower Hamlets Borough has one such camera, the infamous camera No. 10, focussed to prey on the back street where people drop off/pick up patients and staff for the Royal London A&E Dept or Walk-In Centre. This single camera rakes in an average £280,000 worth of parking revenue tickets each year.
The information is based on a Freedom of Information request.

Update June 2012: The Hospital A&E department has moved its location depriving the Parking Revenue camera of its main food source. The "Loading Bay" covered by the camera has now been converted to double yellow lines. No doubt their income has dropped.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Natural Colour Diamonds

It looks like I've come across an unbelievably amazing investment opportunity. A gentleman called Richard Jennings from a company called Nemesis Commodities called me at home last week. I don't know how he got my details, but he'd said we'd spoken on the phone some months ago. Dear dear, my grey cells must be fading, fancy me forgetting that. Anyway to cut a long story short Richard is offering me the opportunity to invest in Natural Colour diamonds. It doesn't sound too risky, he's only asking for £7000 initial investment. He has sent me a nice letter with a crisp colour brochure with lots of pages about the exciting investment opportunities. I'll look forward to his follow-up call, it sounds like they have lots of experience in their team and He told me they even have special auction arrangements with Sotheby's Auction House so you don't have to worry about commission when they auction your diamonds. I did chide them on their choice of company name, I was almost afraid they might become my nemesis if I did business with them.

They seem to be a really dynamic company, registered as recently mid July 2010 at Companies House (Reg No 07317748) and are based not far from the City of London on the 2nd Floor of 145-147 St John St London EC1V 4PJ (or perhaps EC1V 4PW depending on their letterhead/brochure). They really should be a little bit more careful about the quality control from their print supplier though; their printer seems to think they are on "St John's Street". Well not to worry their phone number of +44 (0) 207 608 5022 seems to be consistent on all of their communications. even their website.

I know it is difficult when choosing office accommodation, but Nemesis Commodities should have been a little bit more careful about their business neighbours when they chose their business location though. If you google "145-157 St John" and "scam" you get 414,000 results back, I tried "145-157 St John" and "fraud" I got 70,000 results. Strangely a lot of those businesses are on the 2nd floor of that building. Still Richard sounded like a nice young man, very keen.

I may sound a bit cynical in the above text, but I've been warned in a letter from the UK Financial Services Authority that my name and address was on a list circulated and used by "boiler room" investment fraudsters. It warned me that unsolicited calls may not be from genuine organisations.

None of the above applies to the similar sounding Genesis Rare Diamonds, a Canada based firm who have offices in Canary Wharf London who have genuinely been in business for a long time.

Update: 24th Jan 2011 - Daniel Jarvis from Nemesis Commodities 02082332982 called me from their "Hammersmith offices"; he'll be able to answer my questions in a few days time. It's exciting that they've already opened an office in Hammersmith so soon after starting. He tell's they are preparing a diamond auction in Singapore at the end of this week. Such progress is almost unbelievable.
Update: 15th April 2011 - The data on their website is now so exclusive it is protected by a crude login process requesting a user Id and password.

Edit 24thOct 2011 - the company is listed as "proposal to strike off" on the Companies House database.

Edit 31st Jan 2012:  - the company registered a new address on 29th Nov 2011 as Office 46  of 22 Notting Hill Gate London W11 3JE.  A quick look on Google Maps streetview reveals this to be a branch  of "Mail Boxes Etc". I've used Mail Boxes Etc myself and I don't criticise them and they are fine for purpose. They offer a no fuss mail box and forwarding service. When you set up an account, after producing identity documents such as a passport, they give you an "office" or "suite" number which corresponds with the mail box number. There's nothing wrong in that, just don't turn up expecting to find a serviced office. It is however an address that has attracted some interesting characters in the past such as this one; a google search will enlighten you. If Nemesis Commodities had asked me for a suitable business address for diamond trading I might have suggested somewhere more prestige to reassure investors.

Edit: 13th April 2012 I was fascinated to see other  companies using the same 145-147 St John's [sic] Street offices for trading natural colour diamonds. It must be a growing centre for such activities. For example, Clarion Capital (www.clarioncapital.net - be careful visiting I've seen a warning on Google Search saying the site "may be compromised") also appears to be willing to assist people in trading natural colour diamonds. I've no idea whether there is any business connection between Clarion and Nemesis but they do seem to share the same brochure designer who has inadvertently left a reference to Nemesis in the Clarion brochure and some of the same spelling mistakes. I give no opinion pro/con Clarion Capital as I've not been contacted by them with any business proposal.  There are other recently formed diamond trading organisations (offering circa 15% annual return on diamonds) using this location as a working address, these can be found via google. A visit to Companies House to search on the company name can sometimes help you check how long they've been in business.

A 15% annual return such as the one marketed here would indeed be remarkable if achieved and would line up 145-157 St John's Street as a place of great interest to the financial pages of the national newspapers in the future. I've no doubt such business accommodation locations offer a valuable service to respectable businesses, but I'm always doubly cautious when a business based in such a location offers me an unsolicited investment proposal. Here's some useful tips for checking potential suppliers.

Edit: 7th Sept 2012  The company Nemesis Commodities is now marked "Dissolved" at Companies House (the UK Government registry of  companies). A couple of months ago I took part in a BBC Radio 4 investigation for the You and Yours Programme into companies such as Nemesis Commodities. The journalist had discovered my post in this Blog.

The final word. The Russians have a "secret" deposit containing trillions of carats of diamonds. 

Edit: 19th Oct 2012
I'd thought this topic had gone dead only to receive an unsolicited call/letter purporting to be from Marc Phillips of Hudson Forbes Ltd of 150 Minories London EC3N 1LS. (Serviced offices). They too are offering opportunities in Coloured Diamonds. with rise  rises of between 14% - 87% mentioned. According to their website Hudson Forbes are primarily  involved in Carbon Credit trading, which I suppose is linked to diamonds in a way!  Like Nemesis Commodities, Hudson Forbes was recently registered as a company in August 2012 and they seem to be a bit adrift with their records. In their brochure they list 150 Minories as their registered offices, yet the Companies House record shows a registered address of WALTHAM FOREST BUSINESS CENTRE, 5 BLACKHORSE LANE, LONDON UNITED KINGDOM E17 6DS for Company Number 08188736.  I wonder how this new organisation obtained my home address details?

Edit 21st Nov 2012
I had another "visit" from Clarion Capital by phone today. According to their website they've moved down the road to 89-90 Hatton Garden in the main jewellery district of London. Fans of Hatton Garden will recognise this building as the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd which be around for a long time. A Google search reveals many companies sharing that address for business purposes, including Gems, Furniture rental, Footballer agents, Technology, Teaching etc etc. Sadly despite commissioning a new company brochure (with residual errors from the old brochure)  it shows Clarion Capital's business address as my old favourite 145-157 St John Street which matches their registered address at Companies House. They must have been busy because they've not had time to file company accounts since the company formation in Aug 2011.

Edit: 28th Feb 2013
I received a phone call from an anonymous lady who said she'd seen my blog and asked if I had any more information about Clarion. She reported that her 77 year old father had some dealings and had bought a diamond via them She said problems with recovering funds from them. Whether this is the same Clarion as described above I'm not sure, it could be a different organisation. At the moment I've not verified this information.

Edit 28th Feb 2014
A recent BBC Report http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-25761528