The Aspen Asset Management AG Scam Alert – from Switzerland to South Korea
Investors should be aware, there is a new sophisticated scam in town, targeting high net worth individuals to invest their money into fake investment possibilities.
The fraud is being perpetrated by a Swiss registered company running out of The World Trade Centre, Seoul, South Korea by a company called Aspen Asset Management AG. Their addresses are the following:
+82 2 3143 9360
World Trade Center Seoul
Seoul, South Korea
+41 44 551 89 00
Baarerstrasse 43, CH-6300
On the face of it, they appear deceptively as a credible Swiss based wealth management business with supposedly sharp western expats trained in the investment arena. Starting with their web address: www.aspen-am.com
Clean informative website offering a host of Wealth Investment Services targeted across the broad specturm from individuals to large organizations. However, websites that fail to list actual individuals with their credentials is a potential tell-tale sign that something is amiss.
Being a member of a Swiss Anti Money Laundering association appears great for credibility but does nothing to keep your money safe or protect from the nasty actions of this so-called Wealth Manager, so don’t let this fool you.
Moving on to reputation management, Aspen Management AG comes up with no direct complaints or reviews for that matter. Searching for ratings and reviews yields articles written by Aspen Asset Management about financial markets over the past few years. The articles are general in nature, can be read here Calaméo – Aspen Asset Management AG (calameo.com) and mention a person by the name of Christian Lawrence [email protected] , who it claims is a long established ‘Head of Global Equities’ for them, a British expat who was my manager. Be under no illusions, these articles are propaganda to raise of the company’s credibility and profile. However, these articles offer no insight into the competency and/or lack thereof and provides no indication as to whether the company intends to defraud its clients. Also, do not be swayed by the company’s length of tenure, just because the company was first registered in Switzerland in 1983, does not translate to mean they are trustworthy and have not engaged in fraudulent behaviour.
Unfortunately, as the scam is quite sophisticated, I fear that the predicament they create for investors, creates almost an impossibility for the investors to claim their money back.
This is how the scam works
As an intermediary wealth manager, Aspen Asset Management Ag, provides its clients with trading recommendations for private equity trades across Asia. As a new client, Aspen Asset Management AG will suggest to its clients to take a position in a private company that it claims is a target for hedge fund takeover. They will suggest that you can buy shares for $1 and that they have the sale of the shares locked in at a much high price, say $2.85. They will confirm that date and time of the expected sale transaction and will tell you that the hedge fund has already put the money in the escrow account so there is zero risk for the transaction not to complete. They will provide you will a receipt and a statement of account when the shares have traded. Moreover, separately you will be able to confirm with the share registry of the company whose shares you have purchased to confirm that you have acquired the shareholding. A week or two after you have sent your money and you follow up to confirm that the sell transaction with the Hedge Fund has completed, they will positive first of all, but will then respond with an excuse that the transaction is incomplete because of a factors outside of their control. Moreover, they will suggest that the transaction can be completed but it will require you to top of your shareholding to increase the volume that’s required to fulfil the proposed transaction. Once you have fallen for this, they will manufacture another excuse next time around, which will be what they call ‘equity bonding’, that is buy more shares in the target company that is providing the hedge fund with a bond to ensure that the transaction is completed……and so it goes on…..rinse and repeat. In the end, they will tell you that you can’t be part of the trade to the Hedge Fund because you don’t meet the criteria required and now you are stuck with the shares.
Now the real problem is that the company that you are buying shares in is largely worthless. Again, if background check their details, you will find it’s a company with a website and has been registered for a few years. Don’t be fooled by press releases found on the internet. It’s unlikely to have any personnel associated with it for good reason…
So how does Aspen Investment Management AG benefit out of this? Firstly, it the traditional wealth management fees which they are entitled provided they have no other conflict, however, they are selling a dud investment at an inflated price and are likely taking a substantial amount of the upside. What’s worse is that there is no exit for the client and Aspen Asset Management AG can claim the disclaimer regarding not all deals make a profit.
As the client, requests a trade out of stuck trade, they will tell you that they need to focus on completing the Hedge Fund trade before they can look at liquidating your shares at a fraction of the price you paid for them. They will put you in a precarious place financially and then offer a rescue package, this is what charlatans do.
This is exactly what happened to me, Christian Lawrence was the ‘account manager’ and came across as a slippery used car salesman, perfect for the role conman on the occasion in my opinion.
My advice is to stay far away from Aspen Asset Management AG, they are not reputable as they are running a fraud scheme and are currently under investigations by the authorities in South Korea and other jurisdictions. If anyone has had a similar experience with this company, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We hope to have future updates regarding this fraudulent scheme and really hope this saves people for making the same mistakes we did.