News Article

Legislation & Litigation

£1.5 million land banking scam shut down by the Insolvency Service

By CreditMan Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Gilbert Webb Estates Limited which marketed residential-sized plots of undeveloped land at a site in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire to the public for sale as an investment opportunity has been ordered into liquidation by the High Court on grounds of public interest following an Insolvency Service investigation.

The company was found to have continued a land banking scheme previously carried on by Complete Building Systems Limited and other companies whose affairs have also been investigated and brought to an end by the Insolvency Service for ripping off the public.

The investigation into Gilbert Webb Estates Limited showed that the company targeted investors – including recovering cancer sufferers – were misled into buying near-worthless plots of land by claiming that investing in the land was more secure than pension plans, equities or ISA’s.

The company falsely claimed to be regulated by the FCA and that investors could expect short term gains of between 200-400 per cent.

The company’s now defunct website claimed:

At Gilbert Webb Estates Ltd we have gathered together over 100 years of collective experience in property acquisition, development and building together with our surveyors, architects and solicitors.

We adhere to the same principals (sic) used by major developers and construction companies. The one golden rule is location, location, location.

Our land brokers are fully conversant with all aspects of land acquisition, and development. We identify and after much deliberation purchase sites that hit our exacting selection criteria.

With a strong track record as a commodity and exceptionally high growth potential, analysts agree that strategically placed land should be included in every astute investor’s portfolio.

The investigation found that the majority of the £1.5 million received from investors, being some £959,000, was withdrawn in cash from the company’s account.

Welcoming the Court’s winding up decision, Company Investigations Supervisor Chris Mayhew said: This was a bare-faced scam on pensioners who have lost out financially and otherwise, unlike those behind the company who peddled near worthless plots of land to the public for investment.

Contrary to the company’s claims, the only collective expertise was the skill to part people from their money. The Insolvency Service has strong enforcement powers and we will not hesitate to use them to take action against rotten companies whose activities, as here, can devastate lives in particular older and vulnerable investors who may suffer emotionally and psychologically from the impact of incurring significant financial loss and lose confidence to manage their own affairs.