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Screenshot of a breaking news alert e-mail from Q2 2017
Chief Reporter Robert Mendick of “The Telegraph,” Britain’s daily newspaper published in London is running reports citing a Mr. Joe Lewis, 59, who is being investigated by police over more than $200 million which he claimed was in clients’ accounts but now no longer exists! It is even rumored that professional footballers and golfers have lost money in his investment scheme.
In an email sent to clients two weeks ago, Mr. Lewis admitted that his company, JL Trading, had stopped operating in 2009 after suffering heavy losses on disastrous Forex deals. The article went on to mention that he confessed in the email that he had continued taking people’s money for the next five years in an attempt to turn his fortunes around, but that all those attempts had failed.
Lying, non-withdrawals, police launch investigation
In an email sent a month earlier in response to growing anxiety and concern from investors trying to get their money out – he claimed that his company was having “a stressful time” releasing $197 million (£126 million) from American brokers because of US red tape. Police have taken statements from a number of victims, many of whom are British nationals and have now begun an official investigation into Mr. Lewis.
On the run?
The Telegraph piece goes on to reveal that a civil action to freeze Mr. Lewis’ accounts and seize any assets has also been started. The businessman, who claims to have traded from a smart residential address in Istanbul with views over the Bosporus, is understood to have left Turkey some weeks ago. His adult son said he had no idea where his father was.
Scam or crappy investor?
In a letter to his investors he wrote the following:
“JL Trading ceased foreign exchange trading in 2009 following substantial losses and since that time the business has suffered further losses, which I have tried to make good through investments in a number of commercial projects. However, it is now clear that the business will not be able to recover its losses and must cease trading. This means that, contrary to what was reported to you previously, you cannot expect any payments in the future.
“I can only apologize unreservedly for any losses or unfulfilled expectations of profit. I have tried to recover the position for a considerable period of time, but it is now clear that I will be unable to do so. I sincerely regret that I have not been able to do better on your behalf.”
Investors were attracted to his investment club by word of mouth and networking in exotic locations. Apparently, Mr. Lewis, a father of two, started his company about a decade ago, employing at its peak about 30 staff over two story’s of the residential block. He lived in a penthouse apartment with his Turkish wife.
We have learned from the piece that since about 2011, only investors with a minimum of $25,000 (£16,000) were allowed in the investment pool. Also, as recently as the last 12 months JL Trading willingly took in another £1.7 million from two investors. While it is clear who is at fault, you have to ask why no further due diligence was done by those so easily willing to part ways with 6 figure plus savings. As evidence, Don Wall, 77, a retired businessman from Cambridgeshire, is owed about £100,000 by JL Trading. “These are my life savings,” he said, “This money was supposed to be savings for my children and grandchildren. I have never met the bloke and I don’t think I have ever spoken to him.”
In a false positive back in September Mr. Lewis’s told investors that business was being wound up and they would all get their money back, he said. “So you can realize the extent of our business, our current values are: Due to clients, $197,000,000 in 893 accounts, worldwide. Due from Broker, $260,000,000 in 1 account, US,” he wrote, adding: “As we are no longer trading, these amounts should not change.” Then came the email of Dec 3rd, in which he admitted he had not traded currency for five years.
Mark Bavin, who introduced the retired businessman Mr. Wall and others to the scheme and who helped to organize JL Trading’s golf days, has reported Mr. Lewis to the authorities. Mr. Bavin, who also invested heavily and has lost his money, said: “I am sure this is a massive fraud; almost certainly it’s a pyramid scheme. I have reported it to the fraud squad. We have all put money in and he has run off with all our money and that is as much as we know. I am owed significant sums.”
Those hurt by this scheme are looking to launch a class action law suit against Mr. Lewis, but if he has no funds or assets left, one wonders what they attempt to gain as the amount of loss is so huge, in excess of $200m! Aside from preliminary police investigations, victims are organizing on Facebook and on other internet sites, and alleged victims have been urged to join the class action.
The story remains much a mystery at the moment, Mr. Lewis’ son James, commenting on the matter said: “He didn’t live extravagantly. I don’t know where the money’s gone. I am happy to share information with the legal entities. Everything he had is ruined. There are no assets at all that I am aware of.”
To read the full story from the Telegraph, click here.
Featured Image: Joe Lewis pictured (left), James Lewis (right) Courtesy: The Telegraph