Fulham dramatically terminated one of their newest commercial partnerships on Saturday night following an investigation by the Mail on Sunday that found the firm giving ‘guarantees’ of hugely improbable financial returns to people in some of the world’s poorest nations.
Titan Capital Markets has used the club’s brand and Premier League status repeatedly to establish their legitimacy and a guarantee of ‘at least’ 480 per cent annual profits to attract potential investors across Africa and the Asian-Pacific.
Our investigation has found that one of the glossiest promotional videos for Titan Capital Markets – trumpeted as Fulham’s ‘CFD Trading Partner’ last summer by the club – is populated largely by actors.
Some of the people portrayed in the video as purportedly key staff members at Titan’s HQ in Australia are in fact models and voice-over artists.
After this newspaper presented our shocking findings to the club, and asked a series of detailed questions about the partnership, Fulham binned Titan, and a club spokesman said yesterday: ‘The agreement between Fulham and Titan Capital Markets has been terminated.’
Fulham fans had expressed their dismay that the club’s name was being ‘abused’ by Titan. But our revelations are just the latest in a series of scandals around agreements between elite English football clubs and apparently dubious financial partners.
Fulham dramatically terminated one of their newest commercial partnerships following an investigation by the Mail on Sunday
Titan executives claim guaranteed returns of ‘at least’ seven per cent per fortnight, or nearly 500 per cent per year, a scarcely credible amount for a legitimate company. One senior figure working for Titan, Emmanuel Bannor, in charge of operations across Africa, told this newspaper that since the company was formed in August, ‘more than 150,000 people are joining each month’.
He added that, since the company started trading in Forex (foreign exchange markets) in August, they had already attracted total investment of $300m. The MoS has not been able to independently corroborate these claims.
Titan, whose nominal HQ is in Canberra, is currently under investigation by regulatory authorities in Australia over fears it made misleading claims to potential investors. Its website has recently been geo-blocked in the UK, the United States and Australia. The company is not regulated in the UK.
Mr Bannor told the MoS: ‘Our company is targeting the Asia-Pacific region, Thailand, Vietnam and the whole of Africa … you guys [in the UK] have strict regulations and Titan is a young company. The UK regulators are strict on websites and we’ll need to get a licence to [lift the geo-block].’
Titan Capital Markets’ promotional material profiles supposed staff members who are actually models or, in the case of the ‘chief technology officer’, a singer and voiceover artist
Titan representatives repeatedly invoke their relationship with Fulham in all their marketing materials. In one online seminar last week, potential investors were given numerous reasons for ‘saying a big yes’ to Titan.
Prominent among these messages, subsequently sent out in WhatsApp groups to investors and potential investors, were: ‘TITAN is in partnership with an English Premier League Club named FULHAM FOOTBALL CLUB. No football club will partner with a fake project and they’ve would have run a check to be sure the company is real before allowing the Company sponsor them.’
In one conversation with Titan’s head of sales in Ghana, Coach Gideon, he told the MoS : ‘The world is full of scams but this is a solid project. The reason we are so passionate is that Titan gives you value for money. Forex is now a solid platform where people can make millions of dollars. Titan is giving you the tools to make lots of money.
‘For Titan to be able to partner with Fulham, the oldest football club in England, shows that Titan has the ability to survive as a long-term project.’
Fulham are London’s oldest professional club as opposed to England’s. Titan executives also made other claims to The Mail on Sunday that do not stand up to scrutiny.
One claim is that Titan is regulated globally by a firm called WikiFX. In fact WikiFX is a web-based firms that acts as an aggregation tool of Forex traders, telling users which companies are good and which are bad. It has no regulatory powers.
The company’s data engineers were also revealed as models as a result of the investigation
A second claim by Titan is that, in partnership with WikiFX, it offers a unique ‘Eye Protection Centre (EPC) program’, whereby all Titan investors can claim up to $3,000 if their investments fail for any reason or Titan go bust.
A statement issued by the company in July, before launch, said: ‘Titan Capital Markets’ offers its members a guaranteed financial contract with principal protection and a maximum of $3,000 in compensation protection, ensuring the security of each member’s transactions. This move is well-appraised by its members.’
Titan executives told the MoS this week: ‘With our EPC, you literally cannot lose. We can make so much money together.’
It is unconfirmed whether the EPC is actually in place. An old article on the WikiFX website talks about it as a possibility, with the brokers rather an WikiFX underwriting it. The MoS has asked for any evidence or documentation of how the system works, and been provided with no details.
In messages sent by a Titan agent in Nigeria last week, to a WhatsApp group of 74 people being ‘mentored’ by this agent and seen by the MoS, they were told: ‘TITAN is this business you can put your money in, to work for you then, go to sleep with your 2 eyes closed.
Supposed data engineer ‘Rachel’ works for fashion brands as model online and on the catwalk
‘I am looking forward to working with as many persons that are willing to say a big yes and join me to help many souls out of poverty via this business concept.
‘And also, make huge amount of money as well.’
Another message said: ‘Don’t forget no football club would partner with a fake or scam project, do you think of that? Be wise, TITAN is a different project from many fake/scam systems or companies.’
In Titan’s slick promotional video, as well as in written marketing literature, many of those named as employees are largely actors.
‘Ethan’ is a stock headshot model rather than a data engineer
A character called Scott Gibson, who is supposedly Titan’s chief technology officer, and waxes lyrical about the diversity and talent of Titan’s ‘trading team’ is, in fact, a voiceover specialist and actor from Malaysia.
His real name is Daryl and in real life he is also a singer in a punk band. He confirmed to the MoS he was hired by a production company to film the Titan promo – effectively a work of fiction – at a location in Malaysia this year.
Characters that ‘Scott Gibson’ introduces as Titan mathematicians, analysts and engineers are, in fact, catalogue models and people hired for the shoot.
In a series of conference calls with senior Titan executives working across Africa last week, a Mail on Sunday reporter was offered a role as a regional agent for Titan in the UK within 30 minutes, and promised commission of between 10 and 15 per cent per person recruited to use Titan’s services, depending on how much each new signee paid.
Titan are open about the fact their business relies upon being a ‘multi-level marketing’ scheme, which is, in effect, a pyramid model, where new recruits are incentivised to hire more people by being paid commission.
Titan say their business model works in two ways: firstly by charging between $30 and $300 for ‘academy’ lessons in how to become a trader in foreign exchange markets; secondly by directly using investors money to play the markets, guaranteeing returns of ‘at least’ seven per cent per fortnight, or a compound profit of 480 per cent per year.
Fulham fans had expressed their dismay that the club’s name was being ‘abused’ by Titan
In a two-hour Zoom meeting with Titan officials, agents and potential investors last weekend, Titan’s CEO Howard Yan said there should be no limits to the amount of people in the world who could make money from Titan. He added that in future years, guaranteed profits per fortnight might drop from seven per cent to three per cent.
Asked why Titans website was now geo-blocked in the UK, the US and Australia, he said it was Titan’s decision, based on wanting to control how fast his company expanded.
Some Fulham fans became concerned about the club’s relationship with Titan early last month after Martin Calladine, an author specialising in wrongdoing in football, blogged about anomalies in Titan’s short history.
The Fulham Supporters’ Trust (FST) raised the issue with the club in a formal meeting, in which Fulham chief executive Alistair Mackintosh explained what constituted a fit and proper sponsor.
Mackintosh said such a firm ‘needed to fit some or all of the values of Fulham FC, which in shorthand revolved around authenticity, the family and a premium offering’. The club declined to talk to the FST about Titan specifically.
Titan Capital Markets has used the club’s brand and Premier League status repeatedly to establish their legitimacy
The FST’s chairman, Tom Greatrex, told the MoS on Friday he was dismayed that Fulham’s partnership with Titan was ongoing, in light of what is now known about the company, including from the MoS’s investigation.
‘Many Fulham fans will be aghast at the way the reputation of the club – which prides itself on being a respectable, historic, family club – has been allowed to be sullied by association with Titan,’ he told this newspaper.
‘It runs counter to everything [owner] Shahid Khan states his ownership of Fulham stands for. There should be checks on any potential sponsor or partner to prevent the good name of Fulham being used and abused in this way. This case demonstrates that either there aren’t any checks carried out – or they are woefully inadequate.’
It is understood Fulham used a third party firm to conduct due diligence on Titan and found no red flags.
Tim Greatrex claims association with Titan ‘runs counter to everything’ Fulham owner ‘Shahid Khan states his ownership stands for’
Clubs in the Premier League and Football Leagues have come under increased scrutiny of late around the legitimacy of their commercial partners.
Manchester City suspended its agreement with 3Key, a crypto company, within days of announcing it after it became clear that there was no verifiable information about the firm.
Birmingham City offered supporters the opportunity to invest in a club metaverse scheme which was set up with Ultimo GG, only for it to collapse within weeks.
Norwich City ended its relationship with BK8, an Asian gambling company, last year after it used sexualised images of young women to promote the firm on social media.
Titan did not respond to questions addressing the findings of our investigation.
Man City suspended its agreement with 3Key, a crypto company, within days of announcing it
QUESTIONABLE COMMERCIAL DEALS RISK COSTING FOOTBALL CLUBS THEIR FANS MONEY
By Martin Calladine
Post-Covid financial pressures and the rise of cryptocurrency companies have contributed to numerous football clubs signing questionable commercial deals that risk costing their fans money.
In late 2021, Manchester City announced a company called 3Key would be its official crypto partner in Germany and South Korea, only to suspend the deal within a week when it emerged that nothing about the company could be verified, including the fact that it was even a registered business or that the people quoted in the press release were real.
It later emerged that two men said to be behind 3Key are the subject of a class action lawsuit in Croatia, accusing them of operating a series of Ponzi schemes. Alleged victims are also understood to have filed a criminal report with the Croatian authorities.
City refused to comment on how it had come to sign a deal with 3Key and, after some months, announced they had terminated the relationship.
Questions still swirl around another of City’s recent commercial partners, 8XBet, a firm whose founder has no internet presence and, despite being a bookmaker targeting the Thai, Indonesian and Vietnamese markets, has only two employees listed on its LinkedIn account.
This summer, West Ham signed a crypto deal with PeakDeFi, a Dubai-based firm whose founder, Sergej Heck, admits to having worked as a registered ‘independent distributor for a number of companies that were later exposed as fraudulent, although not to his knowledge at the time.
In addition to its crypto scheme, PeakDeFi also endorses a Peak-branded but unlicensed lottery and, as reported by MailSport, it offers Russian-language crypto seminars.
When questioned about the founder’s previous involvement in fraudulent schemes, the company said that he was not a founder or employee, ‘has never been charged or convicted of anything’ and had himself lost money as a result. It said that, having been a victim of fraud before, he had started PeakDeFi to do things properly. The company said that its Russian language communications were done by an affiliate and were intended only for Russian-speaking Ukrainians and Kazakhs. The company remains an official partner of West Ham, who have not commented on the deal.
In January this year, Norwich City signed an endorsement deal with British fintech start-up, Scallop, which claimed it was going to be the world’s first ‘DeFi Bank,’ offering accounts that mixed traditional banking services with crypto. Analysis of the company’s website showed it contained plagiarised content and contradictory regulatory claims.
By the time the partnership ended in July, the company had still not released its banking app, but its crypto had crashed. Anyone who spent £100 on Scallop crypto on the day the deal was announced would’ve have had just £13.61 left on the day it ended. Norwich defended the partnership saying it had never actively encouraged fans to invest.
In February, Birmingham City signed a deal with a UK company called Ultimo to become ‘the first EFL club in the metaverse.’
However, the company’s cryptocurrency crashed within a month and abandoned its social media channels. It later took down its website, with senior staff blaming each other for alleged misconduct that left investors with losses of 96 per cent.
Ultimo had initially been founded by a 21-year-old man, but was partially owned by his father, a businessman who had previously had a company shut by the Insolvency Service for ‘dishonest practices’
There is no suggestion of illegality by Ultimo. Birmingham signed the deal and continued to promote it even after it appeared Ultimo wouldn’t deliver the services it promoted.