TONY HETHERINGTON: Recover your money? Sorry, it’s fool’s gold

Tony Hetherington is Financial Mail on Sunday’s ace investigator, fighting readers corners, revealing the truth that lies behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left out-of-pocket. Find out how to contact him below.

Ms J.B. writes: I am sending you a letter I received from Ruby Creek Gold in the US about reimbursement for investments made through Heritage Fine Assets. I am assuming it is another scam, even though I would like to believe it.

Don’t believe it. It really is another scam. What you have received is the start of a so-called ‘recovery room’ fraud, run by crooks who promise you will recover earlier losses, but end up cheating you out of more money.

Allure: Ruby Creek Gold says it recovers losses from buying gold

Heritage Fine Assets sold diamonds and gold as an investment, and raked in at least £7million before the High Court ordered it to be shut down in 2016 for making false claims about the profits to be made. 

The letter you have received, supposedly from Ruby Creek Gold in Los Angeles, is a fake. It even displays the logo of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which is a British body and nothing to do with gold in California.

The letter tells you: ‘We are now able to reimburse clients based in the UK who invested through Heritage Fine Assets.’

And it tries to reassure you that ‘your assets are safe and will now be managed by an asset management firm based in London, namely Premier Asset Holdings’. All you need do to claim full reimbursement is contact Premier in London and supply the 16-digit ‘Trade Reference Licence Agreement Number’ given to you by Heritage.

The scam is that there is no such thing as a 16-digit Trade Reference Licence Agreement Number, so anyone who contacts Premier is told they will have to buy one. If you contact Premier, you will receive an invoice and an email from Premier director Richard Thomas, issued from his firm’s offices at 133 Houndsditch in the City.

The only true thing about this is that there really is a company called Premier Asset Holdings Ltd, and its director is Richard Thomas. But the genuine Premier is in Newport, Gwent, and it is a property business with no links to gold, diamonds, asset management, or the Houndsditch address where there turned out to be no trace of the crooks anyway.

The real Richard Thomas told me: ‘We have been the victim of having fraudsters passing off as our company.’ He added: ‘Our accounts are strong and they have used my name on emails to some customers.’

Sadly, one of those customers, an elderly man, has been taken in. He told Richard: ‘I have spent £52,209 of my remaining savings to try and recover the [lost] £53,494.’

Now the fake Premier is demanding a further £23,367, and the elderly victim wrote to Richard saying: ‘Please help, as I don’t sleep at night, worrying about this.’

Richard reported the bogus Premier to the Financial Conduct Authority in February, and then to Action Fraud. I hope this means there is an investigation going on.

The crooks set up a British website and used a British bank account and the phone number 020 3488 7965. Even if they are abroad, these British links should help trace them and lead to their prosecution.

Most ‘recovery room’ scams operate from the US, with fake law firms at the forefront. Beware of Sherman Ellis Law, telling people in Britain that shares they owned years ago have been converted into stock in a new firm which could lead to a payout. 

Sherman Ellis claims to be more than 20 years old, with operations in dozens of countries, but I found that its website was set up just three months ago.

And avoid Fletcher Corporate Partners of New York, which claims to be offering up to £12 for shares in British steel company Corus.

The real Corus was bought by Indian company Tata as long ago as 2007 and later renamed Tata Steel, so old Corus share certificates are no longer valid.

I see ‘recovery room’ scams like this every week. Beware American strangers bearing gifts. 

If you believe you are the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email

Because of the high volume of enquiries, personal replies cannot be given. Please send only copies of original documents, which we regret cannot be returned.

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