Alkane Energy thwarts boiler room scam

A small energy company has thwarted a "boiler room" scam which could have cost its shareholders thousands of pounds.

Investors in AIM-listed Alkane Energy became suspicious after receiving telephone calls and letters claiming to be from the company and offering them shares at below the current market rate.

Alkane and its advisers launched an investigation and realised that it was a sting aimed at getting investors to hand over money for shares which they would never have received.

In an announcement to the Stock Exchange yesterday Alkane boss Steve Goalby said the company was not behind the "unsolicited" approaches and advised shareholders to report any suspicions to the Financial Services Authority.

Andrew Emmott of Brewin Dolphin, the company's brokers, said a handful of shareholders had been targeted but it was not thought any had handed over money to buy more shares. Some of the calls also suggested investors buy shares in another company called Bankers' Petroleum.

In April, another listed company, Emed Mining, reported a similar approach had been made to its shareholders by an outfit purporting to act as agents for the company.

The FSA repeated its warning for people to be on their guard pointing out that the average amount lost by investors in 2006 because of bogus brokers was around £20,000. "It is not just the novice investor that has been duped in this way. Many of the victims had been successfully investing for several years," it said.