VERY GOOD NEWS BULLETIN for Inside Track Victims – March 1st 2017.
UNITED STATES: Chairman of Inside Track Jim Moore was arrested last Thursday and is being held in US jail for charges of fraud relating to Lake Austin Development.
ARTICLE FROM GUARDIAN:
Buy-to-let ‘way to riches’ Tony Levene The Guardian Saturday 5th February 2005
Although the property boom seems to be over, some companies are telling potential investors there are fortunes to be made. Tony Levene investigates the sales methods of one company.
Property prices are going nowhere – that’s the consensus of the Bank of England, top economists, and the monthly price surveys from Halifax and Nationwide.
While they disagree over decimal points, the clear picture is the balmy days when your property earned more than your job are over.
But might all these experts have missed a trick? Could property riches still be there for the taking despite the views of the Bank of England?
Inside Track, a Kingston-upon-Thames firm, says you can still “give up work and be a property millionaire instead”. It promotes purchasing buy-to-let properties.
In a mailshot, Inside Track claims you can “Start From Scratch, Live on Easy Street Instead of Struggling For a Living.” And, even better, you don’t need to be rich, experienced in investment or even have any money. The letter says you could be wealthy – defined by Jim Moore, who signed the mailshot, as “at least £1m in property assets within three to five years.”
Almost identically worded mailshots were also sent out in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
No matter the date on the letter, Mr Moore says: “Nine years ago, I was broke, toiling for a pittance, massively in debt. I was utterly sick and tired of the daily grind.” So, he decided to seek “freedom from worrying over money.”
“Now,” he says “I have the car of my dreams, a wonderful private house, and all the cash I could ever spend.”
“It is hard to believe that just a few short years ago I was a humble wage slave with zero prospects,” he adds.
So, what was Mr Moore, who signs letters from Inside Track as “chairman” doing in 1993, nine years from the date of the 2002 mailing? And why was he so broke?
After several requests for information on Mr Moore, (who lives in Spain), Inside Track, set up in 2001, said: “Prior to beginning to invest in residential property and the establishment of Inside Track Seminars, Jim Moore really was down on his luck. He was seeking to support himself through various ‘consulting’ roles.
“The work was very mundane and Jim was finding it very difficult to secure a regular income. People were not paying Jim and he was truly broke with virtually no income or assets. Jim’s lifestyle during this time was far removed from the lavish lifestyle he had enjoyed previously.”
In 1989 Mr Moore was one of four partners who ran L’Arome, a Deesside based perfume firm which sold products through multi-level (sometimes called network or pyramid) marketing.
L’Arome’s brands were called “Echoes” because they were reminiscent of major perfume brands. In 1991, Chanel, one of the world’s biggest perfume companies, sued L’Arome under the Trade Marks Act 1938.
Chanel claimed L’Arome’s 180,000 distributors asked potential customers what their favourite perfume was and then sold them the Echoes version.
Mr Justice Millett found in favour of Chanel. L’Arome went bust, owing £6.5m. Days later, L’Arome was purchased from the receivers and turned into L’Arome International. This failed in 1993 with an agent admitting: “It ran on a dream that all could be rich.” It is not clear whether Mr Moore was involved in this company.
The L’Arome concept was reborn as Atlas Research Corporation in late 1994. This failed in 1996, owing creditors £168,000. Mr Moore was involved with Atlas as a consultant. Now Mr Moore says: “I am living proof that property is the fastest and safest way for the ordinary person to become wealthy.”
Inside Track is certainly growing. Sales multiplied fourfold in the year to March 2004 from £3m to £12.9m. Gross profits increased by a similar figure from £1.1m to £4.2m. According to Companies House records, Mr Moore is neither a director nor a shareholder in Inside Track.
Directors are the company secretary Maria Helena Gifford and Lumley Management Ltd, which shares a Mayfair address with Slaven Jeffcote, Inside Track’s auditors.
Of the 200 shares in issue, 105 are held by the Pearson Foundation, based in Panama. Until February 2004, these shares were held by Prism Holdings in St Julian, Malta. The other shares are held by Isle of Man based trusts.
Despite this opaque share holder list, the firm says it takes “corporate governance very seriously. The shareholders have structured their holdings in accordance with professional advice. It would be unusual for this not to happen.”
Mr Moore’s mailshot and other advertising material – the company spent £2.16m on direct mail in the year to March 31, 2004 – is intended to interest recipients in a free “workshop”. This leads to a £2,495 property education session. From there, would-be millionaires are invited to join as “members” for a further £6,495. It is difficult to see how this can be financed with “little or no money” unless the member borrows.
Members can buy discounted properties (usually a 15% reduction) through Instant Access, a sister company to Inside Track. These are usually “off-plan” and as yet unbuilt. Here members pay a deposit to the developer and a fee to Instant Access amount- ing to 3% of the property price.
By buying at a 15% discount, some banks will then lend the balance in full because the 15% discount equals the 15% minimum deposit lenders require. This is called a “gifted deposit.” Some lenders, such as Bristol & West, refuse to accept these.
If property prices rise, borrowers can try to cash in on profits and buy more properties. But if they fall, they could end up with negative equity or losing their deposits, creating difficulties for those with “little or no money”.
It is not clear whether the Inside Track definition of a “property millionaire” is someone who has a portfolio of buy-to-let properties owned without mortgages and which can be encashed for £1m. Or whether it is someone who has properties valued at £1m, where this is largely secured against mortgages, leaving the banks holding the deeds.
They can also access legal and financial services through Instant Access which made an £8.25m operating profit in the year to April 30, 2004 on sales of £12.2m.
Instant Access says: “We genuinely believe residential property investment can generate attractive investment returns over the medium to long term and should be a part of every balanced investment portfolio. We don’t feel this message needs to be a hard sell – it is compelling enough when one analyses historical returns.”
Inside Track does give wealth warnings at its seminars.
Brad Rosser moved into Inside Track in 2003 to improve management. He says: “Jim is an ideas man. He has little to do with day to day management. We are changing our mailshots.”
ARTICLE FROM MONEY WEEK:
The property-seminar millionaire who helped ruin an army of wannabe landlords
May 22, 2008
Jim Moore considers himself a “victim” of the credit crunch. “But I don’t want to whinge about it,” he remarked bravely last week. Many of his customers may think that that is the ultimate in barefaced cheek. Not even Max Clifford, whom Moore hired to handle his PR when things began to get sticky last year, will dissuade them that they’ve been taken for a ruinous ride by “Mr Buy-to-Let”.
As The Mail on Sunday points out, the collapse of Moore’s property seminar company, Inside Track, “has left an army of amateur landlords wondering whether they will ever see compensation for investments that went hideously wrong”.
Moore, a former perfume pyramid salesman, set up shop in 2002 and began carpet-bombing the media with advertisements, says The Guardian. At free taster workshops, packed with inspiring rags-to-riches stories, would-be punters were told they could “start from scratch [and] live on easy street instead of struggling for a living”. Those hooked (and the pressure was considerable) were encouraged to pay £2,500 for a weekend of “property investment education”.
They were then invited to join a “property club” run by associate firm, Instant Access Properties (IAP), for an annual fee of up to £10,000, in return for inside gen on thousands of properties, many off-plan (not yet built), promised at a discount to the developer’s price. A third firm in the group, Fuel, brokered the mortgages.
The claims were incredible, says The Mail on Sunday, but thousands fell for it, “partly because it cruelly played on people’s fears of an impoverished retirement”. Inside Track boasted it had sold £2.5bn worth of property “creating hundreds of property millionaires in the process”. Yet many had mortgaged their future, and often their homes, to finance portfolios in new-build hotspots such as Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham, as well as Spain and Florida – all areas where prices have tumbled.
Moore claims he’s feeling the pain, but this multi-millionaire still has cash to burn: The Mail on Sunday reckons that, since 2006, the main company, IAP, has paid at least £15m in dividends to its few shareholders, “with Moore likely to be the biggest beneficiary”. Its shares (IAP is still trading) are held offshore in Panama and in three Isle of Man Trusts. The biggest hit to Moore’s wealth has come not from the credit crunch, but from a bitter divorce with former wife, Kim, who is thought to have extracted at least £16m from him. Moore laments that his three weeks in the High Court last month cost him £1m in legal fees alone.
Yorkshire-born Moore left school at 16 to become an apprentice engineer in Sheffield, walking straight into an industry in decline. “It was living hell,” he tells The Independent on Sunday. He made his first pile making sun-beds, then millions more via his perfume business, L’Arome – turning to property when that went bust in 1991, after he was sued by Chanel for trademark infringements. Moore has shown such resilience against these “hard knocks” that it’s certain “he’ll be back”, concludes the paper’s flattering profile. Indeed, he’s already planning numerous “exciting new events”.
Tell that to the many members of his property club who’ve come a cropper as a result of falling for his companies’ misleading claims (see below). For them, Jim Moore is not so much Mr Buy-to-Let, as Mr Die-in-Debt.
Jim Moore: how Mr Die-in-Debt worked his magic
“Give up work and become a millionaire instead.” Alarm bells about Moore’s operations began ringing almost as soon as the ink on his advertising copy had dried, says Tony Levene in The Guardian. In 2002, the paper attended a seminar at which Moore told audiences they could become rich with little effort or capital by “flipping”: selling incomplete properties at profit and then piling the proceeds into more off-plan purchases.
A 2003 Which? report warned that “these courses are pricey, heavy on psychology, but downplay risk and are light on information [about] property investing realities.” That was brought home when it transpired one of Moore’s “experts” was his then sister-in-law, Lorraine Captan, who sourced and valued properties, although “a newcomer to the property process”.
Another charge laid at Moore’s door is that developer discounts “were illusory and based on inflated valuations”, says The Independent on Sunday. He dismisses this. But many members found the value of their completed properties was far lower than the “discounted” price paid, says The Mail on Sunday. Some, including a divorcee who was egged on to sell her family home to fund seven buy-to-lets, report losses running to hundreds of thousands.
Yet business continued ticking over nicely for Moore, not least because IAP extracted a non-returnable £1,000 reservation fee and 3% of a property’s purchase price, as well as the annual membership fee from members. How did he get away with it? Perhaps the biggest scandal is that property remains unregulated by the Financial Services Authority.