A father-and-son team whose promises to help out people who risked defaulting on their mortgage often pushed them further into debt have had around £5 million frozen by a court.
The Financial Conduct Authority said that dozens of people, some “highly vulnerable”, had handed over hundreds of thousands of pounds to the duo and two companies run by the son, Daniel Stevens.
The watchdog has taken Mr Stevens and his father Anthony Kafetzis, who has half a dozen other aliases, to the high court over their involvement London Property Investments (U.K) Limited (LPI) and NPI Holdings Limited.
The FCA said that LPI would arrange new loans to help people who were defaulting on their mortgage and risked being turfed out of their homes.
However, the new loans were not properly explained to borrowers.
They were typically high-interest loans that were bigger than the initial debt.
The homeowners would also be asked to sign over some of the rights over their property to LPI without explanation, the FCA said.
Later when they tried to sell the home, the company would block the sale until they were paid a large fee, which could be worth up to 35% of the property’s value.
Other times LPI would convince individuals to sell their homes to NPI – which would then rent them back to the original homeowners.
But it was never explained to them that Mr Stevens was the only shareholder and director of both companies, the FCA said.
The watchdog was granted an injunction to freeze 17 properties belonging to Mr Stevens, Mr Kafetzis and the two companies – all of whom are named as defendants.
They are worth around £3.9 million, the FCA said.
It also froze others assets worth up to £867,770.
“Based upon present information, the FCA believes that the defendants’ activities have affected dozens of individuals, some of whom are highly vulnerable and who may have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds to the defendants,” it said.
The two companies carried out financial activities that are regulated by the FCA without authorisation or exemption, while LPI sent out financial promotions without the correct authorisation, the watchdog said.
It added that Daniel Stevens and Anthony Kafetzis “were knowingly concerned in LPI and NPI’s contraventions”.
Mr Kafetzis is also known as Anthony Stephens, Tony Stevens, Tony Stephens, George Stasis, Anthonio Georgiou and Andreas Georgiou.