DEVELOPING STORY: Purported Belgian Financial Firm That Used Acronym ‘LOFL’ May Be At Center Of International Mystery; Website Vanishes Amid Bizarre Circumstances After Flurry Of News Releases
DEVELOPING STORY: A financial firm purportedly headquartered in Belgium quickly may become a source of international intrigue as regulators seek to piece together clues to solve what appears to be an evolving mystery.
For starters, the company — Landen Options and Futures — used the acronym LOFL on its website, according to search results accessible in Google cache. The site itself now is returning a “Server not found” error.
It was not immediately clear if the firm has gathered money from investors.
Although LOFL could be an actual, legitimate acronym a company might choose for itself, it also is web shorthand for “Laughing Out [Freaking] Loud” and “Lots of [Freaking] Luck.”
On May 20, the Financial Services and Markets Authority of Belgium (FSMA) issued a warning about the purported firm.
FSMA said the firm “claims to offer investment services from premises at Avenue Louise/Louizalaan 149, 1050 Brussels.”
But Landen Options and Futures “does not have the authorization in Belgium necessary to offer investment services in or from Belgium,” FSMA said. “Moreover, it is not situated at the address provided.”
FSMA “thus advises the public against responding to any offers of investment services made in the name of Landen Options and Futures and against transferring money to any account number they might mention,” the agency said.
Web cache also reveals that a copyright notice on the firm’s website purported to date back to 1990:
“Copyright © 1990 – 2011, Landen Options and Futures,” the notice read.
Records, however, show that the domain, which is behind a privacy proxy, was not registered until Jan. 3, 2011.
Other records show that the purported firm issued bizarre, awkwardly worded news releases through online PR sites to drive traffic. The news releases also speak to Forex trading.
One vague, poorly worded release claims the firm is establishing a Forex platform in “some part” of the United Kingdom.
“Landen Options and Futures, a prominent independent brokerage firm with main office located at Brussels Belgium, and has been providing brokerage trading services to international traders and investors, recently announced that it will soon commence its brokerage trading operations in some part of the United Kingdom,” the Feb. 16 release on PR.com read in part.
The release further claimed the company “has built two new branch offices in London and Scotland ” and “will provide foreign Exchange and futures trading services to traders and investors in UK with service highlights on online trading capabilities.”
Meanwhile, the release claims that the UK venture “recently received regulatory approval from UK Financial Services Authority.”
It quoted a person identified as “Mr. Harvey Davies,” purportedly the firm’s chairman and chief executive officer.
“In (sic) behalf of the entire company, we are glad to announce the commencement of our brokerage trading services in some part of United Kingdom,” the release referencing Davies read in part.
A Feb. 19 release quoted a person identified as Nathan Wauters, the firm’s purported “Managing Director.”
On Jan. 21, nearly a month prior, Wauters was quoted in a news release speaking about something called “The Algorithmics.”
The PP Blog confirmed this morning that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission is seeking information on the purported firm.