Some time ago (this manager does not exist), we highlighted that we found a set of managers (likely the same underlying entity) that was trying to push strategies with a tremendous high Sharpe ratio. In addition, they used AI-generated photos and plagiarized text, two measures that seem to go beyond the typical scam, to lie about historical returns. Those managers have now closed their websites, but another “firm” has surfaced with, in my view, an ever more stunning website.
This is an entity that is mainly targeting Australian and New Zeeland domiciled investors. It is possible that the site is being used to acquire personal information, as it requires uploading identification documents as part of the signup process. Identify theft could be a potential application of the site, and it does not necessarily have to relate to a Ponzi scheme or misstated returns.
In our prior post, we highlighted the following warning signs, and most of them apply to this entity as well.
|Instant Track Record||Yes, claims to have been operating since 2002. Website registered May-2022.|
|Stable Returns||Yes, returns with essentially no volatility. Could theoretically be trade finance, or an illiquid alternative credit strategy. This does however not match with the overall strategy description.|
|Unlicensed||The firm claims to have an Australian registration but is most likely borrowed from another firm (a firm that merged with another larger firm). In contrast to the prior setup, this firm is only accepting Antipodean clients.|
|Plagiarism||Most of the text is plagiarized. In this case, they have picked a smaller firm to borrow text from. Moreover, they borrowed the logo and name from a closed asset wealth manager. We also suspect that much of the website is copied.|
|No professional presence||The key individuals have no presence on social networks or have appeared in articles. They maintain a Facebook and a Twitter account but are largely repositing financial news.|
|AI Generated Photos||In this case, they have been somewhat pickier about which photos to use. The images still share the same facial features (e.g. eyes and chin are at the same level), all hallmarks of deep fakes. This time around they seem to have used a better AI generator, as the photos contain fewer artificial artifacts, that is ears and glasses do not contain glaring inconsistences, except in one case.|
|Contact Info||Large missing on the website. The website is registered to Kalkofnsvegur 2, Reykjavik, Capital Region, 101, IS. An odd place for a Sydney-based entity, and is a common address used by the Withheld for Privacy project. Nothing wrong with privacy, but given the perceived legit activity of the manager, it is at least uncommon to register financial enterprises using these services.|
What are the odds of eight people, working in the same firm having exactly the same facial dimensions? While these pictures are generally higher quality than the prior ones, earrings are still difficult to generate symmetrically. It’s uncommon to have two different styles (bottom right face).
Obviously, we do not believe that any serious/sophisticated investor would invest in a firm like this. But less sophisticated investors may fall for this. As a database provider, that is only providing data, we would like to iterate that you need to go beyond the numbers. Stay vigilant.