18

Today I got a cold call from an alleged representative of Saikyo Sakura Assets offering me a trading opportunity. At first I was very skeptical as this raised several red flags, but I am also interested in the opportunity. Now I want to find out if this is a scam or legit business. I am (at this point) not concerned with the actual opportunity they suggest.

I value your personal opinion, but please also provide evidence for your claims (scam vs. legit). Personal experience with the company counts, of course. In the following I share the results of my previous research:

Positive (legit business)

  • The man was friendly and patient. He did not push me towards a decision. He asked me to do my own research on the company and the opportunity they suggest and sent me additional information via email.

  • When I asked where he got my contact information from (name and phone number), he gave me the name of the list broker (Experian).

  • A Google search for "Saikyo Sakura Assets" (also combined with "cold call", "scam" and "fraud") returns about 134.000 results, among them press releases by the company and a listing on Crunchbase, but no reports on cold calls or fraudulent behavior (at least not on the first three pages that I checked).

  • The company has a sound well designed website and active LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.

Negative (scam)

Please help me to make an informed decision. Thank you!

| improve this question | | | | |
  • 12
    LinkedIn profile with 256 followers and one employees tagged... Only news feed sounds fishy. Plus someone having 6 billion in assets don't go cold calling – Dheer Jan 17 at 14:06
  • 3
    @Dheer plenty with 6 billion in assets are cold calling, just not your typical consumer. – TCooper Jan 17 at 23:26
  • 4
    Isn't this a false dilemma? Saikyo Sakura could be a legit company and this could still be a scam. Lots of scam artists pretend to be associated with legit companies exactly because people assume that if the company is legit, the 'opportunity' is legit too. It was really common for scammers to cold call people and claim to be with Microsoft. Microsoft is a legit company, but those calls were not. – Rob P. Jan 20 at 16:29
  • 1
    A friend of mine was approached recently by a different company with shocking similarities. He's not resident in Japan, cold-called by Mirai Life Securities (mlscorporate.com also based in Osaka, also having a 'research office' in Korea) with an amazing investment opportunity in a stock that's about to profit tremendously in the next 90 days. As it happens, the called had some inventory of the stock, they were willing to sell 'at a discount', since they have purchased 'earlier, in bulk'. 100% scam. – Svetkovski Jan 21 at 6:11
80

If you had a 50%+ roi trading opportunity, would your first response be to patiently ring up strangers and sell it to them?

Big hedge funds fight each other to outrun the S&P by a few percentage points. Ray Dalio's pure Alpha Fund, which is literally closed to new investors has gained an annualized 12.5%. Think about that for a second. Someone with a (most likely) legitimate edge that is < 1/4(!) of what is being attempted to be sold to you here doesn't even accept new customers.

All you ever need to know about propositions like this is these type of comparisons. People with money printing products 4x+ better than the best competition don't share them with anyone period, let alone trawl through the phone book cold calling civilians about them.

| improve this answer | | | | |
  • 19
    It seems like there might be a third possibility - that the company is legit, but they try to get customers because the "opportunities" are very risky and you are likely to lose all your money. Outfits which promote things like currency trading come to mind... sure, you can make a 50% ROI in a year, but 95% will lose their entire investment! Or day trading. This isn't a scam per se in the sense of them taking your money and running, but could be shady in terms of what they actually disclose and how. – Michael Jan 17 at 22:20
  • 3
    @Michael Or there is some slight of hand on the wording. Maybe it isn't 50% of the ROI, but a ROI 50% larger than what you would expect on a similar product on a competitor. Saying that you're offering a 3% margin when the competition offers 2% is way less impressive than saying you have "50% larger ROI margins". – T. Sar Jan 20 at 10:42
17

A few red flags to me: I searched the company name in Japanese, and there are absolutely zero hits in Japanese. Not a one. That is bizarre.

Their website is in English only. That is also, to me, bizarre. There are very few businesses in Japan that can afford to be solely based on foreign income. Even foreign financial institutions located in Japan are inward facing businesses.

Finally, most international friendly finance companies left Japan due to all the red tape -- why have they stayed... or more importantly, popped up? They are located in Osaka, which is not a financial hub. Obviously this isn't a deal breaker but the number of finance savvy English speakers in Osaka is probably a hundredth of a percent of those found in Tokyo.

If things go south, your legal recourse is nothing. There is no such thing as swift justice and loads of holes to sink through in the Japanese legal system. It's a long, expensive road, to probably not get your money back.

| improve this answer | | | | |
  • 1
    Agreed, Japanese media has not covered them at all, despite them being based in Japan. – さりげない告白 Jan 20 at 0:31
  • I'm sure "Mr. Anthony Brown" of their leadership team with the title of [checks notes] "Wealth Management" is an English-speaking financial wizard. – briantist Jan 20 at 5:17
  • 1
    They also seem to have two Japanese names - either shisan (kanji) or asetto (katakana), and while there is a Japanese page here it smells of machine translation - "Gopro Stockの16%ブーストがSaikyo Sakuraの資産を語る" or "強い利益の後、Sony Corp Rallysを言う" are not even the product of incompetent humans! – Ken Y-N Jan 20 at 7:11
  • 7
    I've just also noticed their Japanese page has the usual Other Stories footer, labelled with "YOU 五月 (that's the month of May...) ALSO LIKE..." – Ken Y-N Jan 20 at 7:19
  • @KenY-N "You GO, getsu! Also, like... what even is capital?" – briantist Jan 20 at 21:22
15

They appear to be a legit company, however there's nothing to say the person you talked to has anything to do with them.

OSAKA, Japan--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Japanese Wealth Management company Saikyo Sakura Assets has commented on the recent rally in Hong Kong stock markets. The Hang Seng Index surged over 1.5 percent with 47 out of the 50 constituent stocks showing gains.

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191125005395/en/Saikyo-Sakura-Assets-Positive-Hong-Kong-Election

This person could have easily pointed you to the legitimate website, which would have the legit links to legit social media sites. The question is if the phone number is the same as any found on the website or any that is related to the company. Just because it's not on the website, it doesn't mean it's not a number they use for business contacts or is a shared number for a call center or a third party call center.

Because this company probably uses third party call centers in their normal course of business, even contacting them directly and asking if the person you talked to is related to the company is no guarantee they can find the person you're asking for. Even if that person is, there's nothing guaranteeing that's who you spoke to, since the caller could have lied about their name. The only way you'd know is if you were allowed to talk to this person through the actual business phone lines. If they recognized who you were, then it might be legit.

Finding out if the phone number they called you from has anything to do with the company or their possible third party call centers is simply not worth the time and effort. The gains stated in the above article aren't anywhere near 50% growth, and you won't find that kind of growth anywhere else, as Philip stated.

This is 100% a scam. If you want, you can report it. Reporting it might save someone else from getting scammed. This assumes you live in the USA. There's a Japan tag, but I'm kind of assuming that's because of the supposed source of the call. If nothing else, the below will help future people in the USA. If the OP really is in Japan, there are ways to report scams there. I can't find any, since everything I see is USA related. I do, however, see that telephone scams there are a big problem as of 6 months ago.

Report Phone Scams

If you’ve lost money to a phone scam or have information about the company or scammer who called you, report it at ftc.gov/complaint.

If you didn’t lose money and just want to report a call, you can use our streamlined reporting form at donotcall.gov.

Report the number that appears on your caller ID — even if you think it might be fake — and any number you’re told to call back. The FTC analyzes complaint data and trends to identify illegal callers based on calling patterns. We also use additional information you report, like any names or numbers you’re told to call back, to track down scammers.

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0208-phone-scams

The above link and the one below have examples and other information about scams, if you're interested.

Report Scams and Fraud

With so many kinds of scams and fraud, it’s hard to figure out where to report each type. First, file a report with your local police department. You may also contact your state consumer protection office. You can also report certain types of scams and fraud to federal enforcement agencies. Federal agencies usually can’t act on your behalf, but they can use complaints to record patterns of abuse. This helps them take action against a company or industry. Contact these federal agencies based on the type of fraud:

https://www.usa.gov/stop-scams-frauds

And another link referenced in the above article:

https://www.justice.gov/archives/stopfraud-archive

| improve this answer | | | | |
15

kiss-o-matic's answer really covered it. There's basically 0 chance this place is real. The address for their "headquarters" in Osaka doesn't seem to exist, and for their website and social media to not only defaulting to English but not have Japanese as an option?

As obvious as it is based on the other info (and really, just getting cold called is enough), I'll pile on with some other things about their online presence.

Other than their pinned tweet, the entirety of their twitter is just a newsfeed with articles that for the most part have little to nothing to do with finance, and they all have weird link shorteners.

Every online result is just from press release dump sites. Literally anyone can issue a press release; these are all just garbage articles to look legitimate.

What little scattered Japanese is on their web site doesn't look native to me even as someone with a very low proficiency.

Their careers page links are mailto (email) links.

The "login" form always returns bad user name and password even though there's no actual form on the page and pressing the button doesn't send any network traffic anywhere.

Their SSL certificate was issued last summer, but actually it belongs to CloudFlare. That's not unusual on its own, but it is for a financial services company on a website that gives account access, and even if they were using CF, they'd be paying for the account that gives an SSL cert in their own name, and not the free one CF gives out.

The phone number (Japanese number) has an automated menu with a text-to-speech voice that begins in English. There's a welcome message in Japanese but the entire rest of the menu is in English with no option for Japanese, and every option goes to voicemail.

The area code for the number is actually Osaka though; makes me wonder if they chose their purported location based on what phone number they got.

Their MX records (where their email is hosted) points to https://mailhostbox.com , a "company" called "D Solutions" whose main page is Lorem Ipsum text, and whose login page contains a typo in the company's name.

If I had to pick one thing that actually looks kind of sharp though, it's this fillable PDF account form.

| improve this answer | | | | |
  • 1
    That is a nice PDF -- but also another red flag. If it was an Excel sheet then I might retract a few of my points. – kiss-o-matic Jan 21 at 1:33
  • @kiss-o-matic yes, I saw your removed comment, and while it could have been worded better, it's pretty much true that websites (and a lot of user-facing tech stuff) for Japanese companies are... behind the times. It would have to be the old .xls format though to not be suspicious ;-) – briantist Jan 21 at 1:39
  • 1
    Yeah, didn't mean to offend -- I wasn't referring to the race so much as the culture. You hear from western devs working in Rakuten that talk about what a nightmare it is being an engineer for a product that's basically a vominous mass of characters and links! :D /r/japanlife has some good (?) stories. One engineer said his company just disabled external email -- clients have to fax to them. He wasn't joking. I weep. – kiss-o-matic Jan 21 at 23:50
  • @kiss-o-matic yeah I had an idea what you meant. It's difficult for people who aren't familiar with the culture to see a comment and understand where it's coming from. Funny you mention Rakuten too since from what I understand they're kind of unique (forward thinking, promote speaking English, etc.), but yeah their JP site is a mess (though, hugely popular). The US site only looks the way it does (I'll hesitate to say it looks good) because it's just the eBates site with new branding since they bought the company. – briantist Jan 22 at 5:52
  • 1
    As a dev (who became one in Japan even), I do try to keep up w/ what's going on there. Apparently Rakuten, Mercari, and maybe a couple of other J-companies are being hailed as forward thinking (eg western). However, at least w/ Rakuten I hear it's largely dependent on the team. Some say it's okay. I imagine it's hard to convince a new grad that his father staying at work, even doing nothing, was of no benefit to anyone. Time will tell if they are successful and it pays off. There's no question Japan needs to come up with something soon if it wants to continue to be an international player. – kiss-o-matic Jan 22 at 17:04
2

I have been involved with them. This is what happened so far:

  1. January: As described above I was also approached for buying a stock that should have a great ROI. I bought it for the minimum amount of around 5k EUR.
  2. End of March: The jump up did not come, due to the virus the stock went down. When I asked when they expect things to change, they told me that due to the CoVid19 situation the announcement (and the rise in the stock) will be delayed BUT that someone will still buy my stock for a higher price than it had (long story). AND in addition that they were the underwriter for a startup company that will go public in the coming months and that I could get stocks of this company for a lower price than they will be listed on the stock exchange. So they moved me into this position. Until here, it already sounded a bit strange but I was happy because I thought, I would have made those profits and anticipated even more profits in the coming months.
  3. mid-April: they called me up and told me that a Hedge Fund wants to buy shit loads of these startup stocks for their portfolio and that I could sell my stocks to an even higher price than anticipated (ROI 225% instead of "just" 50%). But, this Hedge fund only wants to buy in huge chunks and that I need to buy more stocks (either for another 20k or 40k) and that I should then get my return within a few weeks. That just sounded too good to be true and I did another online research. I found this discussion and some German lawyer that warned about them1. Then I asked a Chinese friend of mine to check out this startup, as they claim to be based in China. He found they were actually founded in Hongkong BUT could not find any proof that their office is where they claim it is. Now, I also asked him to check the company that issued the shareholder certificate of my startup shares. But to be honest, I'm not that optimistic.
| improve this answer | | | | |
0

For me the red flags where the non-useful comments given on social media, even social media accounts with no traffic and not being able to find anyone of the named persons during the cold calls somewhere else in the internet. If you have good sales people I would expect that they are interested in a customer relationship hence would appear somewhere else in the internet. I do not want to be more precise here as it might give the next scamming-wave ideas what to improve ... also their emails did not look professional to me.

Thanks especially to the guys who checked their website more from a technical perspective as it also rises likelyhood that these cold calles are scam or fraud coming as Saikyo Sakura Assets.

| improve this answer | | | | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.