Friday, February 03, 2012

Scam Alert: The Griffen Holdings posing as Griffin Holdings

The Griffen Holdings is a low profile call centre that sells "stock market training" courses. These guys rely on their relative anonymity and the similarity in name with a legitimate investment company called Griffin Holdings.
The Griffen guys regularly break the law by making unsolicited marketing calls to people like me, and then can't tell me who they got my number from. That's a violation of the ECT Act, not to mention annoying. They are so "upfront" that they hide their call centre number, and don't give it out even when asked. Extensive searches on Google have revealed only one contact number, and this is for faxes. I found several jobs ads for them:
Field Sales Consultants needed. our callcentre makes appointments for you. Own car and cellphone needed. Must be available immidiatly [sic]. Fax CV to 086 554 5978 or e-mail.
They exploit the unemployed by working on a commission-only basis, unless you regard R10/month as a legitimate salary. I joined the web site to "apply" for the job and found their contact number to be (012) 644 2476, and a related web site, which doesn't mention "The Griffen Holdings" anywhere on the site.
I contacted the legitimate Griffin Holdings and they assured me they don't have a call centre or sell stock market "training". They wrote:
There are a number of Griffin companies (some spellings Gryphon, Griffen etc). We do not offer the service you refer to.
So it seems that the secretive Griffen Holdings is a lot more dodgy than they'd like you to believe.
Update: In response to my email enquiries, they ("Admin - The Griffen Holdings") said
We hold seminars every Monday for our existing clients and receive names and numbers of people who they think might benefit from our services or be interested.
What a load of BS, because anyone who knows me would know that I'm not interested in being contacted by anyone from a call centre! If they took the trouble to become members of the DMA they would also know that I'm on their "Do Not Call" list.
Section 45 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, no 25 of 2002. states the following:
45. (1) Any person who sends unsolicited commercial communications to consumers, must provide the consumer—­
(a) with the option to cancel his or her subscription to the mailing list of that person; and
(b) with the identifying particulars of the source from which that person obtained the consumer's personal information, on request of the consumer.
So although they provided the "opt-out" option, if they cannot identify the particulars of the source, then they are breaking the law.
Update 3 April: One of the Griffen Holdings "franchise holders" (he said there are a dozen or so around the country, each with their own call centre) called to tell me that it isn't a scam. He explained that they get the phone numbers from "lists", not only from "seminars". he confirmed that he had no idea where they got my number from.
They sell stock market software for R19,200 and offer a guarantee that if you don't make a 40% profit in 6 months then they will refund your R19,200. I have asked to be sent a copy of the contract. It sounds too good to be true, which means it probably is; not even Mr Madoff's ponzi scheme offered that kind of return.

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