Owner of house used in scam says she warned authorities

The Scottish company behind a financial scam which saw investors duped into handing over hundreds of thousands of pounds was flagged to Companies House a year ago, it has emerged.

The Hertford Avenue home in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
The Hertford Avenue home in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
The Hertford Avenue home in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin

The owner of a Glasgow property which the fake director of Icon Worldwide Investments – a fraudulent company registered in Scotland – cited as his home address on official documents, said she contacted the authorities after letters from Companies House were sent to her home and warned that she believed it was “attempted fraud”.

Police Scotland is currently investigating the activities of the company, also known as Icon Group, which is registered at a serviced office block at 93 Hope Street in Glasgow. The firm is believed to have used fake personal profiles and falsified banking documents in a bid to swindle international investors.

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Canadian investor Wes Robinson last week revealed that he had paid $192,000 (£154,000) to Icon in return for an “asset backed note” worth $40 million – which never materialised.

The Hertford Avenue address – the home of council worker Louise McLean and her family – is listed as director Bill Icon’s address in the company’s incorporation document filed with Companies House.

Mrs McLean – who has lived at the address in Glasgow’s West End with her husband, James, an engineer and children Andrew and Amy for 18 years – said she had received the documents, which confirmed the incorporation of Icon Worldwide Investments, in May 2016.

Under UK law, the identities of business people who register with Companies House are not checked, leaving the system open to companies being set up by false directors or using fraudulent addresses.

Mrs McLean immediately spoke to Companies House officials to tell them that she had no knowledge of the firm and to ask that her address be removed from the company’s profile.

She said: “The first I heard of this was a letter from Companies House in May of 2016 saying congratulations on becoming a director of a company called Icon.”

Mrs McLean investigated the company and was suspicious when she came across the firm’s website.

“I immediately thought it was dodgy,” she said. “When I spoke to Companies House, I asked them if it would become a police matter and they said that it might do.”

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Officials told her that she needed to fill in a form and wait 28 days to see if any objections were raised to her address being removed from the system.

On the form, she warned Companies House that she believed the attempt to set up a company linked to her address was fraudulent.

She wrote: “I believe this to be an attempted fraud as 10 Hertford Avenue has been the private residential address of Louise and James McLean (and two children) since October 1998.”

A letter from Companies House on 23 June, told her that no objections had been received and that her address would be redacted from the documents.

Mrs McLean said: “Over the next few months I received two letters for Icon which were from Google, perhaps trying to sell some kind of advertising, but I returned these to sender and explained that this company was not based at this address. I heard nothing else.”

She added: “It is terrible that people can just sign up to something like this using a fake address.”

However, despite the address being removed from the “service address” section on the incorporation document, it still remains listed as Bill Icon’s contact address on the “Initial shareholdings” section of the paperwork.

A spokeswoman for Companies House said particular cases could not be discussed, and that while an application could be made for a service address to be removed, that did not apply to other addresses.

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She said: “It would be unusual for a single registered address dispute to be flagged as an indication that fraudulent activity has occurred.

“Rather, it sets a marker that means the company is the source of further monitoring.”