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Investment market scams, or How startups cheat
Any commercial project needs investment. Often, developers, being excellent specialists, are poorly versed in legal intricacies. This is used by scammers, who are more and more in the investment market.

Investment Market Scams
Every day you have to clean your corporate mailbox from spam. And if the office manager successfully copes with offers of stationery, furniture, garbage letters, porn spam, then you have to disassemble personal addresses and suggestions that resemble business ones.

A very large number of various letters are received with proposals on Western financing / lending to projects in Ukraine and Russia under the mildest conditions (Libor rate plus 1%), body at the end of the contract, loan for 20 years, etc.). The vast majority of such offers are absolute fraud.

Do not think that scams are working on a large scale. Not at all. Having promised you USD 20,000,000, you will be divorced as a result from three to thirty thousand dollars. Not more. There are no serious mobsters in the investment brokerage market for startups. Only petty crooks playing on the primary reflexes of the same laymans as themselves. The trouble is that, often, the investment expectations of inexperienced startups are so strong that they drown out all the arguments of the mind.

How was it with my friends?
At the end of last year, he accompanied the project of customers, according to which he had previously developed pre-investment documentation (business plan, a number of financial models, presentation materials, etc.). There was an investor who showed interest in the project. There were delights, there was a lengthy correspondence, there were agreements of intent, confidentiality, and reporting to IFRS. As a result, funding consent was obtained, and friends were offered to open an account with a certain English bank, to which money will be transferred in tranches. On line. That is, de jure anonymously.

Really, miracles?
Double miracles - the money did come. Rather, it was the client who saw the requested amount in his account in the bank-client system. With the international lawyer, a relatively legal scheme was developed for the founder to provide a private interest-free loan to a Ukrainian company. The transaction for some reason did not go through, and the next day the client saw a notification in that account that his account was blocked by Center for International Crime Prevention (Center for International Crime Prevention at the UN).

Screaming, screaming, wailing
I got a call after an investment broker got in touch with a client, suggesting that he settle the Clean Bill On Record Clearance Certificate issue for a symbolic 5,000 euros, which the client should forward to the broker in private payment on Western Union. Became interesting. Googling, I found out that, firstly, the bank does not exist. The domain on which the website of this virtual bank operates is registered a year ago in Slovakia.

The administrator of one of the largest business forums in Russia went forward, and upon my request in a personal message that the IP of the investment broker posted there is located, where would you think? In Nizhniy Novgorod. (one of the advantages of old-timers of business forums is good relations with administrators).

British phone numbers and corporate email are created through a virtual online office. Yes, and then there was nothing to look for. Everything became clear right away when I found out that the client-bank system is logged in with an eight-digit password and a primitive captcha.

There are some simple tips to prevent these risks.
1. How did you find? You posted a resume of the project, and threw you offers?
In the investment markets for startup projects, demand far exceeds supply. It is naive and stupid to believe that someone is so simple, without any control, insurance or collateral, will give money for a long period at a minimum percentage. Investing in startup projects does not fall under any established credit instruments. An investor who is interested in such a project does not finance the project itself. He finances you as a manager. As a person who has sufficient experience to have a certain trust in you, as a manager. If we are talking about investments in the development of an existing business, standard tools are included here (collateral with sufficient resale value, credit and business history, guarantors, the presence of part of equity, etc.).

2. Unsecured loan
You are offered an unsecured loan, 100% covering capital costs and the need for working capital until the break-even point is reached. Unless we discuss consumer loans (small amounts, unrealistic interest rates, hidden monthly commissions, future on-call requirements), then opening such credit lines by Western banks is impossible in principle. In any case, you need to cover at least 20% of the project cost with your own capital, guarantors, bank guarantees from TOP-25 banks, credit history, bringing financial statements to international standards, providing a bunch of documents (balances, balance sheets, profit statements other)

3. The investment intermediary is rushing you and requires some kind of payment right here and right now.
Money loves silence. A twist of the phrase, investment / credit decisions do not rush. Only a fraudster will rush you with some small and incomprehensible payment.

4. If you are not on the Internet, then you do not exist (Bill Gates)
How can one have financial relations with a person / company that is absent in the information space? To break through the WHOIS of a site is elementary. Googling via E-mail, phone numbers, full names of contact persons is even easier. There are ways to find out the real location. Do not know how to yourself, find a specialist.

5. Reputation (Goodwill)
Require recommendations. Check in turn and those who gave these recommendations. By the way, no matter how convincing the results of an investor in the past are, it is not a fact that your project will be the same.

6. Get interested in routine operational issues. Remember that investment fraudsters (even if not amateurs) are dancing upstairs.
Take an interest in the legal component of entering money into the country of the project, the issue of future servicing of borrowed financing, the type of reporting, commissions, management fees, the procedure for resolving future disputes, mediation, the allocation of costs for conducting external audits, the procedure for monitoring the implementation of project stages and the presence of sanctions for violation of the terms of these stages or changes in estimates. Require comprehensive written responses (form, outgoing number, wet seal, signature, regular mail)

7. Make an appointment.
Online communication is, of course, a good thing, but in a live conversation, putting everything in its place is much easier.

8. At the stage of arranging financing, do you require relatively little money for something?
Better pay this money to a sensible international lawyer and financial security specialist. I assure you that you will still have change.

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