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This Blog is dedicated to making public some of the business activities and methods of Liam Collins, David Bone Jr and their associates. In the spring of 2010, the present authors invested in Collins & Bone (C&B), who were offering an enticing 8-10% interest on the basis of buying houses for cash, renovating them and letting them out to students. We were assured that our money was secured against houses that they owned, including their own homes and the properties held by their associated company, Castle & Gatehouse (C&G). We have emails and brochures that confirm these details, as do others who invested on this same basis at around the same time. The idea worked for us for over a year, then in November 2011 they told us they were insolvent. They refused our every request for clear accounts, which led us to suspect wrongdoing. We began an investigation and then started this Blog. We found our suspicions confirmed: other investors had lost sometimes quite large amounts to C&B and its predecessor CBS, and all requests for repayment were adamantly refused. These people use and have used so many names that we found it necessary to compress them into CoBo (for Collins & Bone) and Coboco (for the whole bunch of them – there are quite a few!) Note that there is an index in the margin at the right hand side.

Monday, 30 January 2012


Another investor relates his experience ...

"I would like to let you know I have issued court proceedings for the return of my investment. I have not had any notification of any defence and will now wait for the court to serve judgement.

I have been involved for many years in property on a small scale. I have built a few houses over the years and bought and developed a few places for the lettings market, and I do understand the principles of good business. Before I decided to invest, I looked at the C & G website and went to see some properties in the process of development. All looked legitimate, and I was assured any investment would be held against property, so I invested £60,000 in 2009. I was assured the investment could be returned on call, as the Promissory Note was secured by their properties. I later decided to see if I could be issued with a bond to make my investment more secure and was told that if I increased the investment to £100k, this would be okay. 

In June 2010, I increased my investment by £40K to £100K. Unfortunately, I never received my bond, and Liam Collins denied ever having discussed this arrangement with me.

I have been very open and truthful about this, and will give any support I can to make sure there are no more victims in the future."

Sunday, 29 January 2012


The letter from the Financial Times to David Bone, Jr was somewhat obscured by the prolixity of the answers, so we reproduce it here so that any interested readers can more clearly see what the reporter wrote.
Dear Sir,

I am a reporter for the Financial Times specialising on UK Companies.

I was contacted in the past weeks by investors in your partnership named Collins & Bone, which was run by yourself and your cousin, Liam Collins.

Based on documents revealed by these investors, including email correspondence between investors and yourself, promotional material distributed by Collins & Bone and my own research, it appears there are serious concerns about the propriety of the business you’ve been running.

It appears that cash invested by investors has disappeared. Further, it appears that inaccurate information has been disseminated to the public and to investors that had given those invested a false impression of Collins & Bone’s affiliates and protections. This includes giving the appearance that your business was FSA regulated, which it was not. 

Further, I believe that investors may still be at risk from questionable business practices by a company with which you are intimately involved in, Castle & Gatehouse, whom you refer to as your “sister company” in correspondence with investors and for whom you are listed as “sales director” in promotional material. That company is currently operational and actively seeking investors according to its website.

Here is a breakdown of the information we gathered that supports the questions that follow below.

FSA regulation and misleading advisory listings

In promotional material for Collins & Bone and Castle & Gatehouse, Chesterman Capital is listed as the Fund Operator:

From Collins & Bone brochure (FAQ’s section):
“Every aspect of the Fund has been validated externally by third parties and it is FSA authorised through their partners Pointon Yorke [sic] and Fund Operators Chestermans.”

I have contacted Chesterman Capital. It confirms that in 2009 they created one vehicle called CBS No.1B for you but that fund never raised any capital and was later dissolved. Chestermans has reviewed the advisors section of Castle & Gatehouse’s promotional brochure. It appears that section was copied from the document created on the basis of that relationship, which they said never raised any money and ended their relationship with Collins & Bone and its affiliates.

Pointon York SIPP Solutions Limited said it had detailed discussions commencing in late 2008 with representatives who went on to form CBS Property Management Limited, which led to the launch of CBS Fund No.1 LP in June 2009. They added that this fund did not complete and was withdrawn in early 2010 with no funds raised and since has had no business dealings with you or other principles.

Since neither fund confirms any money was raised, it appears that investors were misled and or given the impression their investments would be in FSA regulated funds.

From Castle & Gatehouse brochure (Advisors section):
Operator: Chesterman Capital Ltd

I have contacted other members including Harrods Bank, Royal Bank of Canada Trust Corporation Limited and Piper Smith Watton LLP regarding the promotional material dispersed which claims they are affiliated with Castle & Gatehouse. They categorically deny any affiliation to Castle & Gatehouse.

Why were these companies/firms listed as advisors for Castle & Gatehouse? Please clarify.

It appears as though the advisors are listed to give Castle & Gatehouse a sense of legitimacy, but those listed deny knowledge of Castle & Gatehouse in its entirety.

Further, the single vehicle structured for Collins & Bone was never used but every investor I have spoken to felt that these assurances were legitimate.

What then happened with the over £1m that was raised by the firm? Please clarify and explain.  (This question was not answered on the blog.)

Relationship with Castle & Gatehouse
Based on the due diligence section of the Castle & Gatehouse brochure, the management structure section of the brochure, and emails obtained from investors, we are left to conclude that your role in Castle & Gatehouse was beyond that of a normal employee.

It appears that you, after referring to them as your firm’s ‘sister company’, you may have been pooling assets between Castle & Gatehouse and Collins & Bone. It appears monies raised from investors may have been transferred into Castle & Gatehouse. Please clarify.

Debt-free asset security and general collateral:

In promotional material sent to investors in a Collins & Bone brochure entitled “Collateral”, you write the following on page 2:

“An opportunity to invest in 12 month fixed income 8% Guaranteed Promissory Notes secured against debt-free property assets. The product takes advantage of current market conditions to capitalise on low prices, strong demand and the lack of traditional finance”

On page 3 of that brochure, you list the following among reasons why to choose your firm:

“Guaranteed promissory notes used to fund 100+ pre-order investment property development.” And “Debt-free assets back promissory note in full.”

It appears that the investors were given the impression that their investments would be backed by debt-free assets. Was that the case? If not, please explain.

Further, in an email dated 18 March 2011, you wrote the following to investors in Collins & Bone following an open day, in which you sought to allay investor concerns over late interest payments:

“Your capital is safe and both David and I have our own homes as collateral to protect your assets as well as 27 other assets and the trading inside our sister company (Castle & Gatehouse) also acts as security with future contracts worth in excess of £3m at present. So we have both cash profits from trading, real bricks and mortar as well as rental income from the portfolio to secure your investment. I know on the day there were a few of you who had concerns over the liquidity of the company and rightly so as many property companies have had severe problems in the recession. As explained we have an excellent product built to not only survive a recession but built to thrive in it.”

It appears that investors were reassured that their investments in Collins & Bone were secured by 27 assets plus Liam’s home and your own.

Was that the case? Were there any cash profits?

Further, was any equity in your homes available? What is the status of those assets? If they were valueless, why did you tell investors their investments were secure?

Investments in Collins & Bone and Number of Investors
How much money has been lost? What were the assets? How is it possible that the entire investment of over £1m was spent?

Further, you have said that you transferred over £2.5m in profits into debt following the collapse of CBS Group/Investments. Please explain what exactly you mean by this.

Student HMO Lettings Ltd

I have seen a copy of a liquidation letter sent to creditors of Student HMO Lettings, one of your former companies. In it, creditors are stated to be owed £1.678m but there are only a small amount of assets, including some furniture purchased below value by David Bone on the company’s books. Did Student HMO Lettings, of which according to Companies House you were listed as a director, ever have any assets? If yes, what happened to those assets? If no, how did the company let to students?

I now present some further specific questions:

1) Please list the ‘debt-free’ assets which Collins & Bone promissory notes issued and purchased by investors were backed against.

2) Did Collins and Bone purchase any new homes as it promised investors in its marketing literature? Please provide details, if so.

3) Have the mortgage lending banks repossessed any properties which to our understanding were held in the Collins & Bone “fund”? If no, what is the status of those properties you make reference to in notes to investors?

4) How much money did Collins and Bone raise from investments, and the prior company, CBS, raise from investors? From emails, you have written that £4m was raised from a pool of over 130 investors. Are these figures accurate?

5) Can you confirm that 130 investors existed? Why do you later say there are only 28?

6) What did you do with the £4m raised if you did not purchase any new properties? Were these funds used to finance the 10% return payments promised to investors?

7) Did you tell investors that in order to achieve your metrics for their guaranteed 8-10% annual interest payments, you needed a 25% return on your investments? If yes, please provide documentation.

8) Did you tell investors that part of the capital you were investing would be used to finance interest payments owed to earlier investors? If yes, please provide documentation.

9) It appears the money that Collins & Bone raised from investors was used to refinance the personal property portfolio for you. Do you agree that this is what has happened?

10) What is your relationship with Castle and Gatehouse?

Saturday, 28 January 2012


On the Collinsbone blog are published their very verbose responses to the questions put to C&B by the Financial Times. 

Readers are free to observe in those answers a tried-and-tested sales and self-defence technique: draw them in, then talk them into stupefaction. This trick of mere verbosity is now to be deployed in efforts to evade responsibility for false promises made to C&B investors. The promises were made in order to obtain money from them. We remind readers that we invested money on the basis that the cash would be used for buying houses. There appears to be no evidence that houses were in fact bought, even though C&B amassed more than a million pounds in 2010. 

We advise investors not to be baffled by the chaotic stream-of-consciousness defence used in the Collinsbone blog; the sensible, energy-saving course is simply to dismiss  it. Investors should instead consider making statements about their own experiences with C&B, so that  the documented facts about their business dealings and track record can be collated. It is these that will be of interest to forensic accountancy.

It remains to be seen for just how long the relevant authorities will be willing to put up with such a barrage of self-justification, before realising that it will have to be stopped in its tracks. Then the case will be calmly judged according to demonstrable fact and dealt with accordingly.


NB  Readers, please note that the Financial Times was contacted by an investor other than ourselves and we still don't know who that investor is. Also, the term 'witch hunt' is used in the copycat blog to describe this Blog. If antiquated terms are going to be used, then 'treasure hunt' would be more accurate; i.e., what have they done with all the money?


An article in today's Financial Times summarises some of C&B/C&G's business affairs can be seen online at the following URL:

One must register with the FT to see the article, but this is free and simple to do. It will be noticed in the article that Liam Collins refers to the authors of this Blog as 'mad as a pan of crabs,' a fairly new expression which seems to be doing the rounds at the moment; if googled, it will direct the searcher to the abovementioned article in the FT. Which would show that Liam Collins is rather the one who has madness in his method, we think.

The following is an extract from the article:-

'When asked what happened to the partnership money, Mr Collins said it had been spent on “expensive C&B legal advice, expensive promotional material (we were trying to create a premium brand), exhibitions, subcontractor bills, IT, renovations and all the costs of running a business."'

One expense Liam Collins omitted—and who knows how many others there are—was his contribution towards the cost of his training for the British Bobsleigh Olympic Team.


We have been sent this letter by a fellow investor:-

Dear Investors,

It is with regret that I am now posting on this blog, as what it means is that I now have no faith in Liam or David returning any of my investment to me. I am owed £11,500 which I can ill afford to lose.

I have withheld my judgement for a long time because, like most investors I was afraid to ‘rock the boat’ with Liam & David for fear that they would not repay me any of my investment in the future. After careful consideration of all of the facts on both blogs and correspondence with Liam I now believe that I will not see a penny anyway. I also believe that if every investor reads the facts and searches within their heart, they too will realise that this is unfortunately the case.

The reason for my email is not to be the bearer of bad news, but more of a call to arms. The facts are there to read and the facts are damning. If you agree with me on this point then please do not cower away and pretend to support Liam & David, afraid that this will scupper your chances of seeing your money again, but instead stand up and fight, remove your support and help to prevent this happening again.

Liam & David have done this before. They lost investors money under CBS and some even took them to court. They left a trail of devastated families behind them but nothing happened because they held the trump card:- investors debt was rolled into C&B with the promise of future returns and everyone kept quiet for fear that they would upset Liam & David and never see this money again. They then took millions of pounds under C&B which has again been lost, leaving CBS investors families again devastated and C&B families newly devastated. Then they ask everyone to show support and sign up to a 5 year plan where they will try and repay everyone?? I think we have already completed this cycle of events before, CBS remember?

This model works again and again if we let it. There will always be a promise to pay investors money back and investors will always be afraid to rock the boat for fear of not seeing it again, so new ventures are created, new promises are made, new investment is given, that investment is lost and investors say nothing in the hope that one day they will be paid something back. Whether this is the intention of C&B I do not know but I am angry that this model has worked before and looks like it is working again, I am angry that they have taken investment, lost it and then think it is acceptable to repeat this a second time and I am angry that they talk about morals when it is not morally right to take investment again under these circumstances.

Questions I would ask all investors are:

-          Was anyone told about CBS when they invested?
-          Has anyone seen an Assets and Liability statement from Liam or David?
-          Does anyone know what equity they have in their homes? I am reliably informed they are fully-mortgaged but this can’t be right as this was our security and the reason a lot of people were persuaded to buy, right?
-          Does anyone know how many properties they own (this was the SOLE purpose of our investments)?

I don’t know any of the above - and I have politely asked on many, many occasions! Do you?

Liam and David are unlikely to ever be able to trade and take investment in this country again, and I would say that this is a good thing because history tells me and them that they cannot do it and I would hate to see a third trail of devastated families left behind them. This leaves them the option of getting a job or dancing, either way it is going to take more than a lifetime to repay anything of the millions of pounds they have lost.

So unfortunately my advice is to stop being fearful, accept that making millions to pay us back is a near-impossible task at the best of times but with their history it is totally impossible, withdraw your support from Liam & David and help prevent this from happening again.

I have provided my contact details to the authors of this blog and am happy to speak to any investor that would like to talk this through.

Best wishes to all,


Thursday, 26 January 2012


At Newcastle County Court yesterday (25th January), the bankruptcy hearing for Liam Collins was adjourned. The judge was not satisfied that the petition had been properly served. He has therefore postponed the case for thirty-five days.  

As readers will know, we at IFS have pointed out that there  is documentation to show that there are actually at least four people who should be held responsible in this particular case and we strongly feel that at least those four should be required to account for the disappearance of between three and four million pounds of investors' money. It is possible that the adjournment has been called because of information arriving from various sources that  casts doubt on Liam Collins' sole responsibility.

Monday, 23 January 2012


We received this letter today from an investor. 

"Thanks, Sally and Jasmine, for creating this blog which is attempting to cut through the quagmire that has been created by all the dealings of CBS Ltd and Collins & Bone, etc.

Face it, Liam and Davey, when it comes to organising or running a business, you guys are just one big car crash after another.

No doubt you, and all your relations who work for you, have maintained your lifestyles/standard of living through all this affair, whilst those who were sadly convinced by your flawed business models, have had to carry the loss all these years.

I commend Sally and Jasmine for trying to save anyone else from losing vast sums of their hard earned cash, by what can be likened to taking the car keys away from two individuals who are a danger to everyone else on the road."


We heard that this disastrous business empire was at one time employing some forty people. Many of these were family and friends, and it's not hard to imagine the cost of that. No wonder very few houses were actually bought and that very little effective and productive business was done. It seems that big dreams of sudden wealth were being enjoyed, the flow of cash to fuel these being at the expense of investors. Those investors did not know and could not know the extent of the deception. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that the empire itself did not fully comprehend the depth of its deception. It seems to have been led astray by its own financial oratory and as a result has committed very serious errors.


Some people have wondered just what this Blog can achieve. Well, it has enabled formerly isolated investors (including ourselves) some of whom have paid across serious amounts of money, to relate their experiences and to try to make sense of the situation independently of the stories that Liam Collins and David Bone want everyone to believe. Without this Blog many of the investors would probably still be feeling stunned, depressed, helpless and furious about the whole fiasco. With this Blog, we have opened the matter up to public examination and paved the way for forensic accountancy.

We can only be astonished at the extent of the CBS/C&B/C&G muddle and of course at the reports of bad behaviour that we have received. 

Our object has always been to get the facts clear. C&B's tactic has been to keep everyone separate and in the dark about what happened to their loans, and then tackle recalcitrant investors one at a time. They were counting on the likelihood that none of the investors would want (or even be able to afford) the expense of hiring a lawyer and thereby throwing good money after bad. On top of that, there would be the time and trouble of going through a legal process, the results of which would always be doubtful. There are an unknown number of investors who still apparently hope that keeping quiet about their worries will give the best chance of being eventually recompensed. Liam Collins has said that only those who have stood by him will be rewarded by having at least some of their money repaid to them (thanks very much!) and that those who cause trouble, that is, question or deplore his business practices, won't get a penny back.

The Knockout Fact of the Week in this case: according to unnamed sources, Liam Collins still claims that he has done nothing wrong

If you like this Blog, why not say so? The IFS team never rejects appreciation of its work and no appreciative comment will be construed as flattery. If anyone still feels that security is an issue, comments can be left anonymously.


An investor has asked us to post the following message:

The filing for personal bankruptcy/IVA of Liam Collins will be held as follows:-

Wednesday 25th January 11 am

Newcastle County Court
The Law Courts
The Quayside

Case # NEWC 1517 of 2011 BKT 3472187

Phone: 0191 201 2000  ( ask for Bankruptcy Team)

NB - The successful filing for bankruptcy of a partner member automatically dissolves the partnership. If you want to bring any matters to the attention of the judge, you can send an email to the address below which will get tagged to the case file that the judge will see:

Friday, 20 January 2012


Good news for some of the students who have been struggling to recoup their deposits from Diggs:  the new agency and the house owners are arranging reimbursement. Not all of the tenants are so lucky, though: 

 Posted on Facebook 19 hours ago.

Thursday, 19 January 2012


Investors in C&B may have noticed that on the CoBo blog, Liam Collins invites them to a meeting in London, at which he will address any 'relevant' questions. He continues, referring now to this Blog, 

"If the aim of the blog is to protect others from investing then there is no need. We have not and will not seek further investment. Most people appreciate that this was a property business which has failed in the worst recession in a generation. Some 120 businesses each day are forced down the same route. We wholeheartedly agree that questions must be answered, because money was invested in good faith. It must also be remembered that by far the biggest losers in this business are Liam Collins and David Bone."

We reproduce that last sentence here, so that its full significance will not be lost on people who have seen their investments disappear without trace into the seemingly inscrutable business affairs of Collins & Bone:

"It must also be remembered that by far the biggest losers in this business are Liam Collins and David Bone."  

We ask readers to allow that sentence to sink in. Considering all the investors who have lost out, including those who put retirement money into C&B, this is an outrageous statement, which reveals that in all this affair, their concern is entirely with themselves. So puffed up with self-importance are these two that they seem confident that they can convince anyone of anything.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


This morning we received the following letter from a law firm. Our reply can be read beneath it.

Dear Sir,

Re Castle & Gatehouse, Black and Bone

Received, your letter dated 17th inst., which, please note, should properly have been sent recorded delivery.

To answer your letter, we ask you please to be good enough to state exactly what remarks in our Blog are 'defamatory,'  'libellous' and 'inaccurate.' An explanation for the inclusion of Castle & Gatehouse can be found in our post of 13th January, entitled 'The Role of Castle & Gatehouse.'

Your clients have not contacted us directly and have not explained how the Collins & Bone partnership can be outside their sphere of responsibility. As you may know, numerous investors have seen their money disappear and to date there has been no authenticated explanation at all of where the money has gone.

We quite understand that Mr Black and Mr Bone Sr want to get on with their business unimpeded, but as you can verify from the various brochures we refer to on our Blog, their authority has frequently been used by Collins & Bone when eliciting investment. As the senior directors, Messrs Black and Bone cannot simply reject responsibility and they must be prepared to play their part in clearing up the question of the accounts pertinent to the schemes of Liam Collins and David Bone, Jr.

Our purpose in writing the Blog has always been to get a full and complete account of what Mr Liam Collins and Mr David Bone Jr actually did with money paid into the partnership for the purpose of buying houses for cash. We invested in the Spring of 2010 and we estimate from information given to us by others who invested in that year, that between £500,000 and £750,000 was paid over to them at that period. No evidence has been shown that any property was actually bought at this time. If the correct, authenticated accounts are revealed to us and the other investors and an adequate explanation given of how matters now stand financially with Collins and Bone, then there would be no need for a Blog and Website such as ours, we think you will agree.

We are worried that yet more people could invest money by trusting the schemes referred to in our Blog and we feel that proper acknowledgment of the degree of uninsured, unsecured risk should be made manifest. It is documented that investors in Collins and Bone were led to believe that their loans were backed by debt-free assets and by the Castle & Gatehouse business.

We hope this can all be settled professionally, so that the media do not get involved, in which case names would be named, and possible damage caused to reputations.

We look forward to your reply.

Yours faithfully,


An investor writes:

"The fact that the blog may have caused "upset, distress and professional humiliation" pales into insignificance with the upset and distress caused to investors who believed that their PNs were being used to finance the indirect purchase, renovation and sale of student accommodation."

Monday, 16 January 2012


Many who invested in Collins & Bone did so not only because they were offered high interest rates but also because it was promoted as an ethical undertaking which aimed to provide high quality accommodation for students. Here is a quotation from the 2010 C&B Overview Brochure:

“The new approach comes from partners David Bone and Liam Collins whose own University years motivated them to improve student living conditions by providing high spec accommodation and new standards of care in order to build demand, minimise voids and guarantee profitable returns for investors. What followed has now become a multi-million pound portfolio centred on the North West, North East and Midlands.”

The Diggs Lettings webpages develop this theme:

But the reality the students experienced was quite different. Maintenance was poor - in one instance it took three weeks to mend a leak in the bathroom when water was cascading through to the kitchen below -  and service was often slow and patchy. The students paid a rent that included utilities, phone and internet connection. In many cases, they found themselves receiving letters threatening to disconnect the gas, electricity or phone because the bills had not been paid.

The most serious charge, however, is that in many cases, particularly from June 2011, the tenants deposits were not paid back at the end of their tenancies. For further details, we refer you to   

It is illegal to withhold tenants’ deposits without due cause. Since 2007, it has been a criminal offence not to put tenants’ deposits into a special holding account or to have a recognised insurance-based scheme operating. At various times, both letting agents and students confronted the partners and their associates about the absence of a proper deposit scheme. However, their protestations were ignored and now the students are forced to pursue legal action. The offenders will find that they are liable to repay the deposits in full, plus three times the amount of the deposit per offence.

Liam Collins and David Bone Jr are not the only ones responsible for the careless mismanagement of the lettings side of their business. Mark Black, David Bone Snr and Rachael Bone are all directors of one or more of the Diggs companies.

Here is what some of the students write:

“Hello! I moved out of a diggs house on 1st was perfect when i left it...was there when the guys came to check it and they said everything was fine which suggests im entitled to all of my deposit back. I rang patrick properties who passed my email onto diggs. I was emailed straight away by Rachael who said it would be 2-3 weeks til i got it back. After 3 weeks i asked her where it was and she said she's still working through i said to her if i don't get it back in a week I'll be seeking legal I'm being ignored by her :( Anyone had luck getting deposits back yet?? What do I do now????”

“I have also been conned by Diggs Lettings. Is there anything we can do? This is not right that our money has literally been stolen from us. Please could you contact me?”

“I moved out of a property in Liverpool on 30th June 2011 which I was sharing with 2 other girls. We have still not received our deposits of £200 each and have recently sought out help and advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau”.

On  November 25th 2011, Liam Collins wrote:

“The other areas of our family business include Castle & Gateshouse and formerly Diggs lettings but this is now going into administration. Not an issue though as there are no investors in this so this is simply because we are finding lettings to be a huge drain on the resources at present.” 

(Italics and underlining ours).

So, for whom is it ‘not an issue’? Liam Collins, David Bone and their associates evidently do not care, but we’re here to help the students get justice. And to stop these ruthless  people from abusing the trust of honest, hardworking citizens.

Saturday, 14 January 2012


This report, sent in by an investor, amply illustrates the contempt in which Liam Collins holds the law:

"Liam says (email to investors of 12.1.2012) "Yes I was in court last year and yes I did offer to pay back the investor via dancing. He laughed at the proposal and so I did not. If anyone is happy with me dancing to pay back cash I will happily do what it takes."

If he had offered to pay me back by any legal means I would of course have accepted. This was not what occurred. He had broken two previous agreements to pay me back in instalments and the court case was to obtain a County Court Judgement (CCJ) to require payment. Liam Collins offered to put what was owing to me into another deal from which I would get the profits. Of course with his track record I declined. He also offered a promissory note as stated above. The judge then said she could see no alternative but to grant the order I requested. At that point Liam Collins stood up and said he didn't care if he got another CCJ because he already had a hundred CCJs and I would be doing him a favour if I bankrupted him because then all this nightmare would be over and he could concentrate on dancing. His remark 'Did you see me on Britain's Got Talent?' was addressed bizarrely to the clerk of the court rather than the judge.

He then left, leaving me sitting with the rather bemused judge, who said in fairness she could give no further advice because the other party had left.

On leaving the court I happened to pass the judge coming out of a side entrance. No words were exchanged of course, but the expression on her face suggested that the entertainment had been the high point of her day.

Anyway, stop dreaming folks. The only way you will get any money back is to get Liam dancing."

NOTE FROM IFS: Were the Dubious Duo to look to dancing as a way of repaying their creditors, we estimate that if they earned £1,000 a day, it would take them around eleven (11) years to accomplish the feat. 

It's idle, let it be said though, to exhort anyone to stop dreaming: no-one can, unless dead.

Friday, 13 January 2012


On Collinsbone, this statement appears: "We would like to question how this blog claims to have a copy of the draft loan contracts having never spoken to anyone at Castle & Gatehouse at any point. We seek confirmation that those documents have been obtained legally as they are highly valuable."  

Here we point out that anyone can purchase the document we have seen from Companies House. It is available under Crown copyright, on payment of £1. Here follows a copy of the bill:-

"Your Companies House order of 18/12/2011 is now complete. Please read the following notes before downloading your order.

Price    Product and Company
Order Reference: 508-213551-06976736"

Due to copyright limitations, we obviously cannot post the draft loan contract here.


Readers of the new Collinsbone blog now have an opportunity to see what we meant by 'troubled waffle.' (See the exchange with Joe Sinagoga for our use of that phrase). Readers will also notice that their blog has a grey background, which underscores the fact that as far as their hapless investors are concerned, their accounts are 'a grey area.'

We would like to make it clear that at no time did we approach the individual who was considering investing a very substantial sum in a joint venture with Castle & Gatehouse. Neither did this man contact us because of the Blog. Here's how it came about: when Liam Collins/David Bone Jr refused to tell us about the actual state of their accounts, we began to contact the companies they had listed as their business partners, associates and advisors, in order to be better informed about C&G/C&B's activities. We wish that we had taken the trouble to do this before investing, because we found that most of those listed had never heard of Collins & Bone or Castle & Gatehouse. Some of them remembered CBS. In some cases, there was a tenuous connection; in others the companies were outraged to be mentioned as advisors and to have their names used in the brochures without their authority. Yet others on the list were simply puzzled. It was through our queries to one of the firms that the potential big investor got in touch with us by telephone. Note that he had not seen our Blog. He would certainly not have decided against such a joint venture merely on the basis of unfounded rumour, would he?


Before we invested in Collins & Bone, we had a number of phone conversations with Liam Collins and he sent us several brochures to read. On 17th March 2010, he sent us the following email, with the Castle & Gatehouse brochure attached:

"Dear Investor,

I hope you are well, I have attached some further information on the management structure on our company which will serve as a useful part of your due diligence process.  I hope to hear from you soon so we can start helping you to earn 8,9 or 10% on a tailored bond alternative with all the levels of security you desire in an investment.

We will keep you updated with all new products but let us know if our emails become a nuisance and we will take you off the mailing list.

 Kind Regards

 Liam Collins"

As you see, we were instructed to read the C&G brochure as part of our 'due diligence'.  We are also informed in the email that C&G is "our company." The brochure states that C&G has four directors, viz.:

"We operate a divisional structure with our four main cornerstones of business running through an in-house supply chain of nine divisions. Each partner has responsibility for one cornerstone which we find neccessary to maintain an effective single point of contact for each major revenue stream. Mark Black oversees the premium aspect of the partnership, Castle & Gatehouse limited, our £100k plus property trading business. Liam Collins manages the Collins & Bone partnership which handles investment under £100k. David Bone Jnr runs our joint ventures while David Bone Sr is responsible for our various property funds."

We don't see how a reader could come to any conclusion other than that (1) Liam Collins and David Bone Jr are partners in Castle & Gatehouse (not employees) and that (2) Collins & Bone is an integral part of Castle & Gatehouse. Furthermore, on the next page, number 5, Liam Collins is described as Sales Director and David Bone Jr as Renovations Director. We were both assured by Liam Collins that Collins & Bone was fully backed by its 'sister company,' Castle & Gatehouse. Unfortunately, we were convinced and invested our money.

In May 2010, pleased with our new investments, we were keen for some associates to benefit from this opportunity. Collins & Bone offered 1-, 2- and 3-Year Bonds with monthly interest of 8%, 9% and 10% respectively, or annual interest of 10%, 11% and 12%. Liam Collins said that they were flexible, and that they could negotiate special terms. We asked if, for the sum of £30,000, he could arrange for a 3-Year Bond at 10% monthly interest, but with a yearly let-out clause. He said he would have to consult the Board at their next meeting. The Board consisted of Mark Black, David Bone Sr, David Bone Jr and Liam Collins. Note that LC told us that he would have to consult the Board of Castle & Gatehouse about interest rates for an investment of less than £100,000 that would be destined for Collins & Bone. The Board approved the plan. Luckily, our associates reviewed the case carefully and decided not to invest!

On 18th March 2011, we received an investors' newsletter which includes the following paragraphs:

"Your capital is safe and both David and I have our own homes as collateral to protect your assets as well as 27 other assets and the trading inside our sister company (Castle & Gatehouse) also acts as security with future contracts worth in excess of £3m at present. So we have both cash profits from trading, real bricks and mortar as well as rental income from the portfolio to secure your investment. I know on the day there were a few of you who had concerns over the liquidity of the company and rightly so as many property companies have had severe problems in the recession. As explained we have an excellent product built to not only survive a recession but built to thrive in it.

The reason it works well in a recession is that there is an abundance of cheaper stock to buy, labour is cheaper and rents are higher due to lack of lending for people to get on the property ladder.  Add to this an increased number of students and it is difficult for investors to find a stable consistent yield above 4%, meaning our investments at 8-12% are still exceptional."
In the above quotation, investors are told that Castle & Gatehouse acts as security for C&B. They are not told that this is some kind of informal goodwill arrangement. If those running C&G wish to be classed as professional businessmen, they must be accountable for what their fellow directors have written and promised about the company and for their activities.  

It is claimed on the Collinsbone blog that we never contacted Mark Black and David Bone Sr. However, our records show that when we were requesting information about the Collins & Bone finances in November 2011, copies of our letters were sent to them on 17th November. There was no response from either of them. Further, we included Joe Sinagoga in our email exchanges of the 25th and 26th November 2011. We also tried to reach him several times on the phone, without success. Sally was particularly keen to talk to him because he had given her a very positive testimonial about C&B before she invested. 


We have received the following comment from 'Anonymous:'

"We need to face up to reality. There is no money and there is not going to be any money.

C&B have had a number of companies wound up owing debts (the records are on the companies house web site) and then started new companies which have similarly been wound up. There are also unsatisfied County Court Judgements against Collins and Bone as a search on the Registry Land Trust web site will reveal (date of search: 30.11.2010, Liam James Collins, Northamptom CCBC, case no. 9QT65487, date 18.6.09, amount £805, status: unsatisfied judgement; date of search: 30.11.2010, David Bone, Manchester, case no. 9MA11605, date 22.7.2009, amount £2559, status: unsatisfied judgement). The reality is that there is not going to be any money from the present bankruptcy unless they have assets hidden away that we know nothing about. Their portfolio of properties (as sent round to investors to show that they had assets) was admitted by Liam Collins to me during a hearing in Lambeth County Court not to be worth anything except as a source of rental income, as it is mortgaged to the hilt.

How do you imagine they will ever pay the investors back when their only demonstrated money-making skill is dancing? If you believe this story, dream on.

Let's move on. Now we know - if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

So I am asking the bloggers - what is now the aim of your blog?"

OUR ANSWER TO THIS: The purpose of our Blog is to get clarity on the actual assets and liabilities of Liam Collins and David Bone Jr. Obviously, this includes clarity about all the companies with which they have been involved. We also want to know how investors' money was spent. In detail. If the Partners and their Associates had been willing to share this information with us when they first told us of their financial insolvency, there would have been no need at all for this Blog. So there you have it.

Thursday, 12 January 2012


Here is one investor's report:-

"Hello! I have read your blog and totally agree with you. I have filed with a debt agency for the recovery of my £4,018. I loaned them £10,000 and they paid me some back after my P.N. note was due. They only did this because I was adamant I was going to enforce the P.N. note. Liam begged me not to do this and said he would pay me some back weekly. He paid me some back then it all dried up again.

"Two months ago when I pressured them to pay me this back, Liam signed a contract to pay me back £150 per month. Nothing was paid and this was the last straw so I forwarded the new contract that had been broken to a debt collection agency. I have not bankrupted them. All I am doing is chasing the £4,018 which they owe me. £4,376 after charges.

"When I contacted Liam Collins and David Bone asking what had happened to the £150 per month,  they said "Go and bankrupt us so as to take all this nightmare away." I have saved the texts and e-mails in case the debt firm wants them."

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


We received an email from Joe Sinagoga yesterday, and we want to share the exchange with readers for its humour content—a little bit of comic relief from the serious situation that the 'boys' have got everyone into. Joe writes:

"Well, Jasmine & Sally,

"Congratulations to you both. You have managed between you to extinguish any hope of Collins & Bone ever being able to pay down the debt owed, not just to yourselves, but also to 133 other people, who like you invested in two men who have openly admitted their naivety & mistakes.

"I will do everything in my power to help these boys recover from this lunacy that you have displayed. My desire now is to see them pay back every single penny they owe, with the exception of any money that is owed to you.

"I hope you feel your actions were worth it. I very much doubt that the other 133 people will see things in the same way.

Joe Sinagoga"

We reply:

Hi, Joe!

Good to hear from you. We take your underlying message as being one of appreciation and encouragement to us for our painstaking work in clarifying the murky deeds of CoBo et al. We know you had to disguise it as criticism of us, for fear of upsetting those poor 'boys,' who are so sensitive to truth that they can't bear to be anywhere near it, and we are aware of the tricky position you are in. Do be careful though: in dealing with CoBo you're treading on troubled waffle. Rather than paying down the debt, as you say, we investors want them to pay up!



PS The 'boys' are over thirty.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012


We have had a good deal of correspondence from investors, who are very upset and worried at having apparently lost their savings by investing in Collins & Bone and associates. We will post more comments, but we have to get the writers’ permission first, so it takes time. We assure all commenters of the complete confidentiality that they request, thus no names appear after a comment.

“I cannot help but feel that these boys do not fully appreciate the enormity of what they have done; that they have not acknowledged the level of their negligence or possibly worse, preferring to blame other people and factors, and that they still entertain the preposterous notion that they are talented businessmen with a sound track record and that they would be fantastically rich by now if it were not for some bad luck.”

“Once I had decided to explore this "investment opportunity" I was given the hard sell by Liam, who called my mobile on a regular basis to establish if my money had been transferred to them. Once we were hooked, the level of communication fell away dramatically and can only be considered appalling. Those written statements I did receive from them, were often inaccurate, either in the level of interest due, or even mis-spelling of my surname.”

“Once again IFS make excellent counter arguments using facts, opposed to Liam Collins and Dave Bone Jnr's 'claims'. Thank you for your articulate and accurate Blog posts.”

“The more I read about this situation, the more I think that a charge of serious fraud is distinctly possible. I am always prepared to give people the benefit of doubt, but I am now beginning to think differently.”

“It’s rather silly, to say the least, to insist that a recently published blog is to blame for 4 years of negligent and fraudulent behaviour!”

“Unfortunately I invested  a good deal of my retirement fund which I can not afford to loose.  Liam Collins told me when I first invested that they bought every thing for cash with no debts so I thought that this problem we have now wouldn't happen.”

“Thank you for setting up your site.”

“I applaud your initiative and I am significantly wiser for your efforts.”

"I'm not sure why Liam Collins is unhappy about being made bankrupt. In a county court hearing last year he told the judge he'd be happy if he was made bankrupt, because then he could take up dancing. "Have you seen me on 'Britain's Got Talent?'" Made the judge's day I think. Liam Collins also offered me a promissory note but the judge pointed out that I already have one. Do you think he could pay us back with a bit of busking?" 

"I think every one of us would be willing to admit to our own naivety & mistakes. But none of my mistakes come near owing hundreds of thousands of pounds to 133 people. I invested money to purchase a share in a property to refurbish. Where's my share in a property? Where did the money go?"   
"I am completely speechless at the temerity of these boys asking for emails of support as though they were the innocent victims in this disaster!"

Monday, 9 January 2012


The following document has just become available at Companies House * and we hereby acknowledge Crown Copyright. Companies House informs us that they have filed this Proposal for Dissolution due to C&G's failure to submit accounts. Accounts were due for submission on 9th October 2011.

*, Company Number 07015798, Archival Reference   JOFS9YS9TK0SZY3

Sunday, 8 January 2012


In his letter to investors of 7th January 2012, Liam Collins writes that we were instrumental in preventing a large investment being made in C&G.

At the end of December, 2011, we were contacted by a major-league property investor who was considering putting a very large sum into Castle & Gatehouse and had travelled to Newcastle to visit the C&G team. Before talking to us, be it noted, he already had some reservations about proceeding: for one thing, he was surprised Liam Collins and David Bone Jr were not present as part of the team and also that the company had no proper offices. He was concerned to check that what we were writing on the Blog was accurate. He researched it thoroughly himself and found that it was, and was therefore disinclined to invest in C&G.

This man knows how to calculate and assess probable profits; he established that any deal involving a rolling investment of up to £20m in C&G, where the investor has ownership of the properties, would not be able to generate sufficient surplus to repay investors in previous failed ventures, where the debts amounted to £2m.

Here we note that this sum of £20m has never been given to or secured by Castle & Gatehouse, despite being frequently mentioned in their literature and on their website, no doubt by way of impressing potential investors. (See documentation below, second paragraph).


In this post, we answer one or two of the salient features of that letter. There are too many contradictions in it for us to comment on them in detail.

Collins writes: "We are being forced into bankruptcy by 3 individual investors." In point of fact, any forced bankruptcy will not be brought about by the present writers, but will follow naturally from the partners' own incompetence and dishonesty. Liam Collins' tendency to blame investors for his predicament is outrageous and will not convince any Court.

He refers to this Blog as being "mindless and totally inaccurate." We point out that much of it quotes their own literature, which, through deceitful smooth-talking, has succeeded in divesting a great number of hopeful investors of large sums of money. He threatens that if they don't continue playing his game, they will stand practically no chance of getting their money back, hinting that those who continue to support his strange machinations may be favoured with some sort of compensation, at some vague future time.

He states that "the only role David Bone Jr or myself have ever had with C&G (Castle & Gatehouse) is one of employment. I was employed for selling their products as was David for overlooking renovations." Here, Liam Collins attempts to protect C&G's assets by distancing himself from them; however, the C&G management structure brochure of 2010 sent to investors and potential investors clearly states that Liam Collins and David Bone Jr are directors of the company. So either (1) they were lying to investors and potential investors or (2) they were directors, as documented. The documentation in question is shown on an earlier post. 

Please note that we have never tried to "contact current investors in Castle & Gatehouse." However, many investors who have been in touch with us have been quite confused as to whether their investment was with CBS, C&B or C&G, because the partners appear to have been using these company names interchangeably!

As for that potential investor of many millions, we shall deal with this in a separate post.

He writes: "Legal action is being taken against the 2 bloggers." A careful reading of this Blog will show that Mark Black and David Bone, Sr are only mentioned where we quote from their own literature and from information that is already in the public domain. It is hard to see how there can possibly be a case for libel or defamation in any of this. It is also foolish and childish to imagine that by creating many different company names and identities a person can escape from his responsibilities under the Law. How can anyone seriously contemplate using more of the investors' money for a ridiculous legal adventure and for consulting "5 different top insolvency firms," as it says in the letter?

In the penultimate paragraph of his letter, Collins writes about the possibility of returning investors' money in the "not too distant future ... This is a moral commitment which no bank or building society would give you if they ceased trading." Not so. Investments in banks and building societies are covered by Government guarantee to the value of £85,000 per person, per authorised institution.

Sunday, 1 January 2012


To find out who is responsible for the Collins & Bone/Castle & Gatehouse operation, we trace it back to a brochure that was issued in 2008. The following table shows the Management Structure of CBS. This was sent to investors and prospective investors in 2008:

Now please compare this to the Castle and Gatehouse Management Structure, which was sent out in 2010:

As  can be seen, they are virtually the same. Further, in the CBS Background Information brochure, it states:

‘CBS is today a thriving property investment firm well positioned to capitalise on exciting opportunities as we continue through this recession and begin to work our way out of it. Liam and David knew that without the right structure and guidance from senior heads they would be unable to grow as quickly as envisaged. It is for this reason CBS engaged the services of David Bone Snr as Chairman. He brings 15 years management experience to the fore, and Mish Liyanage our Financial Controller who’s expertise lies in risk assessment. Mark Black, our CEO, has been added to an already impressive team and brings 8 years experience at CEO/MD level.’ (page 3)

It should be clear from the above evidence that David Bone Snr and Mark Black are not to be dissociated from the business activities of the Liam Collins and David Bone Partnership. These brochures could hardly have been produced and sent out without the knowledge of David Bone Snr and Mark Black. More than one hundred investors  entrusted money to CBS and the Collins and Bone partnership which they were told had the backing and expertise of David Bone Snr and Mark Black, who were experienced and well-established in the business.

Investments were invited and made on the basis that houses were being bought for cash. Now investors are told that this is not the case. If the investors' money did not buy houses, exactly what happened to it? As of this writing, no-one is being told, but since the truth about it will eventually have to come out, we are pressing for this to happen sooner rather than later. There seems to be little sense in trying to drag it out and any movement of assets in the meantime will be traceable. 

NB - It is generally understood that the senior executives of a company bear responsibility for its activities and finances. There is no implication that all those named on the company structures above have been involved in wrong-doing.The purpose of showing these structures is to demonstrate the continuity between the business concepts CBS, Collins & Bone and Castle & Gatehouse.


Fellow investors have been contacting us. Some invested in Liam Collins’ and David Bone’s property schemes in 2008 and 2009 using the name CBS. In June 2009, CBS investors were told that the Company was in severe financial difficulty and that the only way they could save their capital was to increase their investment by 30%.  On this basis, more funds were placed in the CBS kitty. At the very same time, during the 2009, Liam Collins and David Bone were claiming in their literature:

‘The sales and revenue side of the company has grown from strength to strength, and we are now in a strong financial position, which in turn allows us to expand our own portfolio. We constantly strive to improve the mechanics of the investment vehicle, in order to insure CBS and our investors can continue to grow profitable portfolios in any market. Our business model has been refined and moulded to be able to accommodate market conditions. We have created a robust system where everything, from sourcing to lettings, plays a vital role in securing high yields. CBS offers a solid, experienced track record that has successfully navigated the difficult UK property market of the past few years and is moving on.’ (page 3, CBS Background Information)

Despite a welter of words and advertising hyperbole, CBS was ailing by the end of 2009 and went into liquidation in October 2010. Investors’ loans were simply transferred to Liam Collins’ and David Bone’s new business arrangement, Collins & Bone. As of this date, we don’t know whether anyone ever got their investment back.


Our ongoing investigations into the Collins & Bone partners and their associates have revealed what appears to be  a scarcely believable pattern: a newly-formed company successfully draws in investment, but not long afterwards gets into difficulties and the investors lose their money. There is no proper explanation and investors are refused access to the accounts. Their loans are transferred to the new company. The partners then begin the process again. New investors are unaware of previous failures and debts. As noted below, Liam Collins is evidently adept at extracting money from unwary individuals but his partnership is evidently bereft of the other skills needed to run a successful property business.