Tony Hetherington is the Financial Mail on Sunday’s investigator, battling readers’ corners, exposing the truth behind closed doors and winning victories for those who have been left behind. Find out how to contact him below.

PM writes: I am sending you a summary of the payments my late father made to Living Investments UK for the purchase of interests in the cultivation of teak and bamboo in Costa Rica.

He received certificates for the first two investments, but despite repeated lawsuits, he never received papers for his third teak investment or the bamboo project.

Difficult: the whole project can be considered a collective investment scheme, which would subject it to FCA rules

Tony Hetherington responds: You will have seen that two weeks ago I described Nicholas (‘Nico’) Durrant – the man behind Living Investments UK – as being like a slippery eel with a generous coating of Vaseline. well, nothing changed.

You found that your father was due to receive an income from the teak plantation scheme as early as 2014, but it did not arrive. Durrant told you that the income was to have been reinvested by your father at a later date, but there was no proof of this and Durrant offered no explanation. Worse, he issued big bills to you and other investors.

The claim you received for £2,489 even included work related to the two investments for which your father never received title deeds, and it included alleged arrears dating back eight years.

Like all investors who have contacted me, you have had difficulty getting in touch with Durrant at the London address he uses. That’s because it’s just a maildrop.

Durrant’s real address is a splendid £2million house he rents in Oxford. And Living Investments UK doesn’t really exist. It is only a trade name which Durrant uses, although it does not act legally and does not disclose it on its invoices and similar documents.

I asked Durrant to comment on what you told me. He said: “Thank you for bringing this matter to light, and it will be investigated. [sic] immediately. Planting and investment are genuine. They are all managed and maintained by professionals.

And Durrant said to me, “I was just a sales person at Living Investment UK. It was badly organized and badly managed. I disagreed with their operation and since its closure I have worked to look after all existing clients to maximize their investments and returns, and bringing in specialists on an advisory basis .

But how could he be used by something that didn’t exist? And how can it close? And if it has closed, why is Durrant still issuing requests for thousands of pounds on behalf of this same Living Investments UK?

Still squirming, Durrant told me his claims were actually issued by an accountancy firm in Essex, Money Books Limited. He explained: “Money Books independently manages all the maintenance of the plantations and Mr P has never paid his annual bill.

You told me that was completely wrong. Your father has paid all the management bills he has received except that in 2020 he withheld £75, saying he would only pay this when he received the missing deeds for two of his investments.

And Anthony Robertson, who runs Essex’s accountancy firm, told me: ‘Money Books is just handling the charging of annual maintenance costs to investors, and has nothing to do with handling the actual maintenance of plantations.”

The amounts requested reflect the information given to him, he explained. And a few days ago Durrant told you that the missing records were posted to your father in March of last year, but by regular mail with no record of sending or receiving.

Durrant believes his scheme falls outside the jurisdiction of the Financial Conduct Authority.

However, the invoices he issued break down a wide range of what are said to be maintenance costs, his travels to and from Costa Rica, and even charges for local ‘straw men’. whose presence hides the identity of who really controls the plantations.

This may mean that the whole project counts as a collective investment scheme – a kind of unit trust that invests in trees rather than stocks and shares. And that would subject him to the rules of the FCA, which has now been offered all the evidence gathered by The Mail on Sunday.

I ordered dog food… and Amazon sent me a collar!

Mrs VS writes: I ordered dog food supplements from Amazon, and later that day received an email from Amazon regarding an order for a cubic zirconia collar costing £159. I didn’t order this so I called my bank and they canceled my card but said the payment could not be stopped.

A few days later Amazon announced that I would be charged £192 for a stereo, which I had not ordered. It was on the canceled card so Amazon didn’t collect anything.

I reported all of this to Amazon, but was told they found no unauthorized activity

Basket case: Amazon sent an email about a cubic zirconia collar costing £159, rather than ordered dog food supplements

Basket case: Amazon sent an email about a cubic zirconia collar costing £159, rather than ordered dog food supplements

Tony Hetherington replies: Luckily Lloyds Bank, who issued your card, said they would get the £159 back.

But he followed that up with a warning that if Amazon objects and insists you really ordered the necklace, then the bank would have to pay the shopping giant again. Fortunately, I can assure you that Amazon has no objections. A spokesperson has acknowledged that someone used your card without your consent, possibly by accessing your computer.

If you receive suspicious emails claiming to be from Amazon, report them by emailing stop-spoofi[email protected]

If you believe you have been the victim of financial wrongdoing, write to Tony Hetherington at the Financial Mail, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TS or email [email protected] Due to the high volume of inquiries, no personal response can be given. Please only send copies of original documents, which we regret cannot return.

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