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Trail book merchant denies being serial scammer

Nick Bendel 5 minute read

Brokers have been warned against doing business with industry suppliers who ask for upfront payments and do not provide contact details.

The Adviser has been contacted by several concerned brokers who have received unsolicited marketing emails from a business called Black & White Concepts.

One offers to sell AFG, Connective and FAST trail books, claiming it “won’t be beaten on price”. Another offers to buy trail books for multiples of 3.0 times trail. Neither contains any contact details.

AFG’s general manager of sales and operations, Mark Hewitt, said the aggregator regularly warns its members of the risks involved in trail book transactions.

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“I think it is very important for brokers to liaise with their head group before entering into any arrangement to buy or sell a trail book,” Mr Hewitt told The Adviser.

Connective declined to comment, while FAST did not respond to a request for comment.

Industry veteran Jeff Zulman, who is managing director of Book Buyers Brokerage, said he had been contacted by a broker who wanted funding to buy a Black & White trail book.

“He had already wired a $15,000 deposit without meeting the vendor, but had been promised a meeting after funds were received,” he told The Adviser.

“Fortunately, the broker acted quickly and was able to have the bank accounts frozen.”

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Mr Zulman said brokers should refrain from sending money to people whose identities cannot be verified.

“Tell-tale signs are no physical address, no landline numbers and no clear identification for how they obtained your email address,” he said.

Black & White Concepts is run by a man calling himself Mark Clayton. Several of the concerned parties who contacted The Adviser about Black & White Concepts said they believe Mr Clayton is actually serial fraudster Mark Whittingham.

However, Mr Clayton told The Adviser he wanted brokers to know that his business is legitimate and not connected to Mr Whittingham in any way.

He said the reason his marketing emails did not contain contact details was because he had been forced to disconnect his phone after somebody falsely posted an online comment claiming that he was Mr Whittingham.

The Adviser asked Mr Clayton to confirm his identity but he failed to do so, despite saying several times that he would.

On January 22, Mr Clayton emailed The Adviser to say that his solicitor would provide proof of his identity on January 23 or January 26, but nothing was received.

Mr Clayton made further promises on February 3 and February 5, but again no proof of identity was received.

The MFAA last week warned members about dealing with “poorly identified trail book sellers”.

“Industry participants should be aware of some trail book vendors or supposed agents of vendors whose operations are problematic,” the association said.

“The MFAA recommends that members should effect due diligence on any book vendor and not deal with them if they fail to meet reasonable checks to confirm their identity and physical location.”

[Related: Known scammer resurfaces, broker warns]

Trail book merchant denies being serial scammer
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