Business 14.6.2018 08:46 am

Stefanutti Stocks distances itself from investment ‘fund’ using its name

Royal Fund Investment is offering 100% returns in three weeks.

JSE-listed construction group Stefanutti Stocks has called an investment scheme that has been using its name and company registration number on its marketing brochure a ‘scam’. It says it has no relationship to the operation at all.

The scheme, Royal Fund Investment, has apparently been marketing itself in both Cape Town and Mokopane in Limpopo province. It promises returns of 100% in 15 working days, for investments from as little as R200.

“Stefanutti Stocks recently became aware of this scam,” the company told Moneyweb. “Stefanutti Stocks’ name and company registration number is being illegally used. We have no knowledge, interest therein and are not affiliated to this so-called fund. Our legal advisors have been instructed to take legal action against the fraudsters, which process has commenced and is ongoing.”

Read a copy of the brochure using Stefanutti Stocks’ name and registration number here.

Profits

Moneyweb was alerted to the scheme by an individual in the Mokopane area who recently lost money in the collapse of controversial bridging finance scheme Choice Lifestyle. He indicated that he has friends who have now turned to Royal Fund Investment, even though he warned them that it did not look legitimate based on his very recent experience.

Read: Sarb confirms Choice Lifestyle contravened the Banks Act

Moneyweb contacted the individual managing Royal Fund Investment, Dermont Quinn*, who insisted that his operation is neither a scam nor a Ponzi scheme. He said that the fund generates its profits through forex trading and property.

“We have offices in different countries and we trade forex,” Quinn said. “Most of the profits stay with us, and then we give those to our members. And also with some of the money we also invest in property. We buy, and sell at a profit. As soon as you invest with us you are also part of every purchase. We buy property, rent it out. We buy property, renovate and sell. Buy land and build. It’s quite a variety of things that we do under the same company.”

He claimed that the 100% profit was guaranteed.

“It’s fully guaranteed,” he said. “Any time.”

Suspicious claims

There are however many reasons for investors to be extremely cautious. Besides the exceptionally high returns it offers, Royal Fund Investment displays a number of suspicious characteristics. The purported link to Stefanutti Stocks is primary among these.

Quinn told Moneyweb that Royal Fund Investment works with Stefanutti Stocks on property deals.

“That is one of the companies we work with when it comes to property funds,” he said. “Some of the properties we get either from them, or give to them. It’s people we work with.”

However, he was unable to name anyone at the company that he deals with.

When Moneyweb related the statement from Stefanutti Stocks saying that the company had no affiliation whatsoever to Royal Fund Investment, Quinn then said that he would have to engage with his legal department about it.

On Royal Fund Investment’s website, the scheme also claims that it “is a proud investor at Breville Group Investment in London … which is also listed on the London Stock Exchange”.

Moneyweb has, however, been unable to find a company called Breville listed in London. The only prominent listed company by that name is the Breville Group that sells electrical consumer products and home goods. It is listed in Australia.

Quinn said that he would send details of the company he works with, but by the time of publishing had still not done so.

It is also highly questionable how any company could make quick profits on property transactions. These are illiquid assets that cannot simply be bought and sold in the space of a few weeks to realise returns.

Royal Fund Investment is also not registered with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA, previously the FSB). To be running an investment fund, it would need to be properly licensed.

*Note: Demont Quinn is not the same individual as Demot Quinn, a previous chief financial officer at Stefanutti Stocks. Moneyweb also has good reason to suspect that Demont Quinn is an alias.

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