Barclays adviser lures fraud victim to invest in turmeric business (Photo: Matt Cardy/Getty Images).
A fraud investigator at Barclays has been promoting investment in his business related to development of a turmeric-based cure for Alzheimer’s disease to a scam victim, as well as to bosses at the bank, The Times reported.
Suphil Philipose, 48, who has worked for Barclays’ global fraud management operations for two years, persuaded Caroline Cornish-Trestrail—a scam victim—to invest £5,000 into his company Bioturm, which he founded in 2017.
Before proposing for investment, Philipose helped Caroline in recovering £170,000 of her savings that fraudsters had stolen. Hours after Barclays refunded her money Philipose called her from a personal number to ask her to invest.
Philipose is the sole director of Bioturm, which is based in Northampton, where he lives. The company produces a supplement called Biocurcumax, which it describes as “the world’s most researched bioavailable curcumin”, with “anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative and anti-platelet properties”.
Curcumin is the yellow chemical produced by turmeric and is said to have beneficial health properties. Last week a six-month, six-bottle supply of Biocurcumax was being sold on Bioturm’s website for £119.94.
The company follows principles derived from the ancient Indian practice of Ayurveda, and seeks to raise funds to develop a cure for Alzheimer’s based on curcumin compounds
Separately, the Alzheimer’s Society website states there is “currently no real evidence that supports turmeric being used to prevent or treat Alzheimer’s disease”. “More research in adults with dementia is needed before we can establish if turmeric could be used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease,” it says.
Caroline rejected Philipose’s approach, and said, “Having fallen victim to an investment scam already, it beggared belief that I was being asked to invest in something else by someone I was meant to trust at Barclays.”.
In early November Caroline, a personal manager for TV actors, researched investment opportunities on the internet. She entered her contact details on a website, and on November 11 she got a call from someone claiming to represent Aberdeen Standard Investments and Axa.
The documents, sent by scammers, stated that her money would be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which protects savers when companies go out of business. In reality she wasn’t buying bonds but giving her cash to fraudsters, and in any case corporate bonds are not covered by the scheme, the Times reported.
She tried to transfer £50,000 to be invested but when the transaction was stopped by Barclays she contacted her relationship manager at the bank for advice, sending him an email she had received from the scammer. She then forwarded the email to her relationship manager and asked if it looked right. He replied just over two minutes later to say: “Yes it looks OK.”
Barclays said it told Caroline that she must conduct her own research. However, it did not say that the emails were a scam. With this, she believed it was the go-ahead from her relationship manager, she sent the scammers £85,000 in December for what she thought was an investment in an Aberdeen Standard bond. She then sent another £85,000 for what she believed to be an Axa bond.
The scammers had promised confirmation documents, which did not happen even after a month.
On May 5, Philipose called and said that Barclays had agreed to reimburse her the full £170,000. After her money was returned, Philipose asked her if he could phone her from a private number to discuss a different matter. It was during this call, later that day, that he asked her to invest £5,000 his business.
Philipose had even approached senior executives at Barclays with a similar offer.
However, Caroline said she was not interested. “I couldn’t believe this was actually being offered. It seemed a high-risk, untested product being sent to me by someone working at the bank.”
Meanwhile, Barclays has launched an investigation. A spokesman for the bank said: “We’re pleased to have returned the funds that were lost in this scam to our customer. We take the allegations raised extremely seriously and we’re in the process of reviewing the management of this case to ensure it met the high standards we set ourselves.”