December 7, 2015

Universally feared and revered financial services sector regulator the Fanciful Concepts Authority (FCA) has spotted something fishy about “leading composite insurance company” A. J. Cocks. “This firm is not authorised by us,” the Authority complained this week, “but has been targeting people in the UK.”

Concerned that our own loyal readers might be among those “targeted’ by this rogue entity, Bankstone News threw on its trusty flasher’s mac and crumpled Trilby and switched at once into Investigative Mode. Pausing only for a couple of extra-strength Maxwell House instants, we positively sprang into action, rapidly typing A. J. Cocks into popular search engine and globe-bestraddling evil empire Google. Where we found… this.

Astonishing that an outfit so clearly flagged as fishy by none other than the FCA has the temerity to continue offering its dubious wares. But there it is. Bold as day. With a logo so terrible you couldn’t buy it online for only ££ two nine nine nine.

At first sight (terrible logo, swathes of stilted blather, random images culled from discount photo libraries), it all looks like a perfectly normal insurance industry website. But, look a little closer, and there’s clearly something not quite right.

For a start the shadowy trio of “inspirational personalities” behind this “leading UK composite insurer” all have suspiciously foreign and probably made-up names (Mertz Alan Frederick, Decannet Christoper, Andrej Haim), blank Facebook-style profile shots, and titles including the word Bonding (no idea what that is, but it sounds dodgy). One of them, Mr Decannet, openly admits to having been “involved in various interesting cases involving Middle Eastern law”.

And then there’s the question of what exactly they purport to be selling. “Let us plan together,” the web copy proposes, “to safeguard what matters most to you -your family, your home, your business and your possessions”. But then under “our products” alongside clip art depicting a Dollar sign, an elastic banded roll of Dollars and a model house with a reversed Dollar sign on the roof, they mostly seem to be offering things like “D & O Liability”, “Global Swiss Life Employee Benefits”, “Wrap-up Insurance (FOR: Investors and Borrower’s) and something called “Home owners and Tennants”.

Clearly no masters of logic, AJC purport to believe that “Our presence in the Insurance Sector for the past 23 years” (something for which we only have their word, in any case) “proves our impeccable record in catering to the requirements of various segments of the society in the market.” For a firm that boasts of having an extensive branch network, it seems odd that their contacts tabs offers only a mobile number for both phone and fax (younger readers, see here for explanation).

“Are you looking to protect your home, car, holiday, medical expenses, business, contract, ship, cargo or anything else ?”, the copy wonders, in the spirit of haphazard opportunism. Ah, yes, Bankstone News’ ship: we really must do something about that.

But then things appear to take a somewhat perplexing turn. Could AJC be a front for something rather more sinister? Having previously made no mention of of takaful or halal insurance or whatever, they suddenly let slip the following: “All our A. J. Cox Insurance Services products are designed keeping your best interest in mind. After all, it is your peace of mind that makes the difference when providing insurance with an Islamic perspective.”

Exactly what kind of Islamic perspective are we talking about here? There’s some quite eccentric ones knocking around these days. What exactly were those cases involving Middle Eastern law that Mr Decannet was involved in? Is peace of mind not relevant to insurance with a Buddhist, Hindu or C of E perspective? Or did they simply nick their web copy from a random selection of other people’s websites?

Our advice, Readers: don’t touch them with a barge pole – unless their quotes turn out to be really competitive or something.

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What would you do if some crazed fanatic flew a plane into your floating money bank?


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