Click here to listen to Two Scammers Caught in Rare Earths Fraud podcast

This is an example of the classic investment scam where ‘boiler rooms’ (i.e. crooked call centres) phone large numbers of people offering a ‘too good to be true’ investment.  It is often targeted at retired people.

 The scam works by offering what sounds like a great investment but it is something that is very cheap for the scammers to get or alternatively the investment product doesn’t even exist.

The investment may be in housing stock in some distant city or in a hotel in an exotic location or in garages in central London or even in burial plots in a place where there is a shortage of plots or just new company shares or could be anything else.

This specific scam involved ‘rare earth metals’. These are a class of metals that are mostly mined in China and used in much of modern electronics including mobile phones. 

Investors paid a total of £2 million and believed they would make huge profits out of the rising value of “rare earths”.

The Court Case

James Anthony Oorloff, 31 of Ascot and John Keith Dickinson, 33 of Billingshurst ran Acquire Assets Ltd then setup Austin Leigh Ltd to carry on the same business, promoting themselves as wholesalers in commodities.

Both companies used 11 different ‘boiler room’ operations to pressure sell rare earth metals and then buy, import and store small quantities of rare earth metals on behalf of the investors .

A typical victim would spend £5,500 buying a basket of five different rare earth metals.

Acquire Assets paid the boiler room £3,000 commission (from the £5,500); spent £1,269 actually buying the metals; a flat fee of £95.80 to store the metals and a further £40.36 per year for insurance. This left Acquire with a profit of around £1,094.88 (20%) and the investor needing an increase in value of 456% over 3 years just to break even on the deal. 

The scammers did actually buy some rare earth metal but this was pointless as they bought a small number of 1Kg blocks. These are useless, as rare earths are sold in tonnes not kilos and what they have is worthless.

In court, the prosecutor held up a block of rare earth for the jury to see and described it as worthless and said that it’s only use would be as a door stop.

The Verdict

They were found guilty of two offences of fraudulent trading at Guildford Crown Court on November 22, 2016.

The two fraudsters were jailed after tricking unsuspecting investors into handing over almost £2million and then blowing the cash on a champagne lifestyle.

Passing sentence, Judge Neill Stewart said: “The nature of cold calling people at home means that it is likely to impact on retired people who are unlikely to be sophisticated investors.

“These offences are too serious for anything other than an immediate custodial sentence.”

Dickinson, was sent to prison for seven years and disqualified from being a company director for 10 years.

Oorloff, was jailed for four and a half years and disqualified from being a company director for seven years.

Good riddance, at least for a few years.

If you have any experiences with scammers, spammers or time-wasters do let me know – go to the About page and  Contact Us



What is Spam Email?


This is a little like trying to define which plants are weeds. Spam emails are mass emails that you don’t want to receive. 

The big emails services such as Google Gmail, Microsoft Hotmail, Yahoo email and others automatically delete as much spam mail as they can be sure of, but huge amounts still gets through to us It is estimated that 50% of the world’s email is spam. That’s a lot of billions of emails per day.

So, how do you block this stuff?

Your email provider will have a series of settings available that let you choose whether to accept all email or automatically filter out anything suspicious. It’s your choice – block everything and risk losing important emails or put up with the spam to ensure you get all relevant emails. 

Spam Blocking Services 

There are specialist services that can filter your email and only allow through the ones you want.  This can be a little hit and miss as the service has to learn which ones you want.

“Stop Spam, Scams & Other Junk Before They Get To Your Computer!”

Reportedly, over 8 million people use MailWasher as their spam filter!

MailWasher is free to use. It works with Outlook, Outlook Express, Incredimail, Thunderbird, Windows Live Mail, GMail, Hotmail, Yahoo, EM Client and many other email programmes.


After you sign up, an Unsubscribe folder is created in your inbox. Drag in unwanted email and Unsubscriber will block any further email from those senders from entering your inbox.

Unsubscriber also notifies the sender that you want to unsubscribe from their email list. Any  new emails from that sender will be moved to the Unsubscribe folder.

It works on your phone, at work and at home.


SPAMfighter has partnered up with Microsoft to build what they claim is the strongest, safest, and most effective anti spam filter on the market. Works with Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail and Thunderbird and it is free.


SpamHero is an easy, no-fuss solution.  Claims to outperforms the competition and  catch more spam and do it with substantially fewer false positives than other spam filtering solution.

They claim there is nothing to install, configure or train and that  SpamHero will automatically detect your valid email addresses.

The sender's “reputation” is weighed during the filtering process somehow.

The company use spam traps around the world so they are able to detect new spam attacks as they occur and adapt to them quickly.


“The best way to describe SpamTitan is GREAT VALUE! With its' 99.99% SPAM catch rate our IT department doesn’t have to deal with frequent email threats that were hitting our campus and now they can spend their time more productively.”

Which is the best spam blocker service?

That depends on how you use email and how you want the blocking service to operate – by removing anything potentially dodgy or by moving such emails to a block folder or by blocking senders before they are a problem to you etc. But any of the above services can be a big help in the battle against spam emails.

Do click on the Facebook or Twitter icons on top right to follow Fight Back Ninja.

Click here to listen to Fightback Through Scambaiting podcast

Unfortunately, a lot of people believe they have a right to defraud you – to con you out of your money and they try to do this through various scams by email and telephone predominantly. Some are very successful at this and make a great deal of money, which means that a lot of other people are losing money to these scammers and often it’s those who can least afford to lose that money – the elderly and poor.  

Prevention is best and there are many things you can do to avoid being scammed.

But this fightback is about an approach called scambaiting

The idea is that you respond to the scammer’s emails or calls in ways that waste their time and effort.

There is a website    which specialises in 419 scams which are the ones where you are promised riches but have to pay some advance fee to get it. These are often from Nigeria or pretend to be from Nigeria. 

 Q1. Is It Only Greedy People Who Are Taken In?

No. The scammers victim of choice may be someone chasing free money but often its well-meaning people trying to help someone else. Also, the scammers watch the news and sometimes tailor their message around a natural disaster or other national problem. Then people who are generous can get caught up in these terrible scams

Q2. Are People Still Being Scammed By These Letters?

Yes. Sadly.  Each year many thousands of people are caught out by the scammers and it is estimated that over $1 billion dollars is lost to scammers per year.

Q3. Is it morally right to bait these scammers.  Aren’t many just trying to make a living? 

Yes, they are just trying to make a living. But they choose to do so by stealing from others and that is totally wrong. It is often those who can least afford to lose money that are being taken in and lose their money.

Q4. How Do I Get Started?

Scambaiting wastes the time and effort of these scammers and may make them less keen or able to pursue their scams. If you can get the scammers bank details or other financial or personal information then Trading Standards or the Police may be interested.

There are tips and tricks for those starting scambaiting at  

Have fun.

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