This article follows my previous article about the situation with JVIP back in March 2022 which was a property investment group based in Tunbridge Wells that collapsed and left investors collectively out of pocket by millions of pounds.
Well, a year later and the BBC have carried out an investigation with one question standing out from the report ‘were you robbing Peter to pay Paul?’. This poses the possibility that Peter Dabner and JVIP ended up (intentionally or unintentionally) becoming a ponzi scheme, where existing investors were repaid using money from new investors.
I found it chilling how the BBC report has exposed how over 140 people claim to have lost £30m following the business’ collapse.
The report highlights how Police are investigating complaints from dozens of people, including Ruth Fretwell, from Brighton, who has potentially lost an investment of £190,000 after being told and believing that the company was buoyant.
Another investor, Mark Palmos from East Grinstead, invested more than £400,000 and doubts he will ever see any of it back.
One other example from the report is Dr Peter Coxon, who handed over £255,000 and was promised security on his property investment in the form of a fixed charge which was never registered leaving him with no recourse when the company folded.
Administrators for JVIP group have said economic uncertainty caused by the pandemic impaired the group’s financing and whilst the management team had tried to put it on a more stable, long-term footing this failed.
What is frustrating for investors and the administrators is that much of the cash is simply too difficult to trace because accounts were not filed for the final two years of trading and, worryingly for investors, administrators have said that
“Quite often, rather than funding specific projects it appears that monies borrowed (from investors) have been used to fund overheads, interest payments and redemptions across the associated companies.”
The report filed with Companies House in April 2022, continued and said: “Investor money may have been funding substantial losses over a considerable period of time.”
As highlighted above, this has the hallmark of being a ponzi scheme, although that may not have been the specific intention.
All I can say regarding this is that it’s a stark warning to potential investors to do your due diligence when considering an unregulated investment where there may be little or no recourse.
How Can Investors Protect Themselves?
The question at hand is how to prevent financial loss. To begin with, it is crucial to conduct proper research, also known as due diligence. If one delves even slightly into the JVIP group, they will notice that the sole director, Peter Dabner, has 29 active companies, many of which are either in administration or have long-overdue accounts.
Furthermore, the accounts for JVIP group, which were due on November 26, 2021, are also past due. It is not uncommon to see different spellings of an individual’s name on Companies House to conceal a negative track record. It is imperative to investigate and thoroughly examine all the companies the individual claims to own.
Although this is just one aspect to consider, it can raise red flags. A company may appear credible with an impressive website, clever marketing materials, and a strong public image, but this does not guarantee that the business is operating efficiently, profitably, or even solvent.
Moreover, many people have undergone some form of property training and now believe themselves to be experts, allowing them to take money for investment. The opposite of a flashy website is when an investor possesses a poorly designed business card with only a Gmail address and a mobile number. These are investment opportunities that should be approached with extreme caution.
Finally, diversification is critical. Although property is an excellent asset class for long-term investment, it is unwise to put all of one’s eggs in one basket. Investors should consider a diversified portfolio that includes a wide range of investments, such as stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, cash, and other investments, and avoid taking on too much risk.