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Secret probe sees DTI shut BTL schemes

A secret investigation has seen the Department of Trade and Industry seeking to shut six property investment companies which claimed to show investors how to get rich quick through buy-to-let portfolios.

The firms are Sterling Mansion (UK), Mansion Investments, SMI (Overseas), Turningpoint Seminars, Portfolios of Distinction and CM2.

Sterling Mansion (UK) and Mansion Investments claimed to offer the opportunity to build a £1m BTL property portfolio within a year for a fee of £30,000 while SMI Overseas claimed investors could build multi-million-pound property portfolios. Turningpoint Seminars ran courses costing £6,000 for prospective investors, claiming to show how BTL properties could be bought without a deposit. Portfolios of Distinction offered a scheme claiming to build a £1m property portfolio for a fee of up to £50,000.

CM2 Services offered an investment scheme to some members of these firms, claiming to invest in the purchase of uncollected debts with investors told they would get up to 100 per cent returns within 12 months.

The Association of Residential Letting Agents welcomes the DTI’s action to have the firms wound up by the High Court. Chief executive Adrian Turner says: “We can only hope that news of the DTI action gets around fast so no more people are promised the Earth at exorbitant prices but make informed decisions based on professional advice which is available to them free.”

The firms have been placed in the hands of the Official Receiver.

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