LOS ANGELES (CN) - An Alaskan real estate developer claims he lost $525,000 to a company he found by "searching the Internet" for "how best to protect one's assets". He claims Incway, Companies Inc., and their associates persuaded him to put the money into an offshore account at an unregulated credit union, and now company employees tell him they have been ordered "not to discuss anything with plaintiff."
Thomas Alexander sued Companies Incorporated (CI), its affiliates Incway Corp. and Presidential Services Inc., CI president Kevin Wessell and CI employees Casey Lawrence and Matt Mitchell, in Federal Court.
Alexander says that in 2008, concerned about the financial crisis, he "was searching the Internet for resources advertising how best to protect one's assets when he came upon the website of defendant CI, which represented, among other things, the following positive factors concerning its business:
"(a) That since 1977, CI 'and its family of companies have served thousands of business people, attorneys, accountants, physicians, and others.'
"(b) That CI 'is committed to the bedrock values of Honesty, Value, Service and Customer Satisfaction.'"
And so on.
Alexander says: "The representations above prompted plaintiff to contact defendant CI by telephone. On advising the CI representative that he was interested in setting up an offshore bank account, he was transferred to defendant Wessell, and at a later time was introduced to defendant Mitchell and then to defendant Lawrence. Based upon his exchange of emails with Wessell, Lawrence and Mitchell, plaintiff was led to believe that CI had its own 'banking department,' thereby giving the impression that defendant CI was a large, multi-department corporate entity with numerous offices and employees. Plaintiff is informed and believes, and based thereon alleges, that defendant CI is, in fact, a small corporate entity working out of one office in Valencia, California, with a small number of employees."
Alexander says Wessell and his associates operated CI and all its alter egos out of the California office.
The complaint states: "In or about June 2008, plaintiff had several telephone conversations with defendants Lawrence and Mitchell, in which he explained that he was considering the feasibility of depositing funds in an offshore bank account to protect his assets, and that the safety of his funds was of paramount importance to him. In response, both defendants Lawrence and Mitchell represented that this could best be accomplished by setting up an offshore bank account that would be controlled by a limited liability company ('LLC') to be set up and organized under the laws of Nevis, an island in the Caribbean.
"When plaintiff specifically enquired whether his funds would be deposited in a Swiss bank, Lawrence represented that 'Swiss banks are not as good as Swedish banks,' that 'the Swedish banking system is one of the most stable and strongest anywhere in the world,' that Swedish banks are subject to strong banking regulations, and that 'lots of our clients bank there with great success.'"
Alexander says the defendants recommended a Swedish bank called "The Alps" and offered to help him set up a company in Nevis and the bank account with The Alps.