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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.

Saturday, 11 February 2012


We print this report in full because it shows in detail many of the problems that others who dealt with CBS have experienced ...

"I do apologise if this is a bit long winded, but I feel it may help others. I have all the necessary email traffic over the years between all mentioned parties, as back-up to my story.

I invested with CBS Ltd in May 2008, after I had read about Liam and Davey in the RLA magazine of which I was a subscriber. I still have that same article. After contacting them, speaking to Liam each time I called, he thoroughly convinced me  and said that if I got my £7500 deposit in prior to June that year that he would not charge me a finders fee for my 1st property.

I sent the deposit in due course and waited for some properties to come through. This didn’t happen and I continued to wait a while longer, before trying to get some answers to the delay. All the time they had the deposit I was continually pestering them (when I could ever get through to someone) about the fact that I had not been receiving the 10% interest on my deposit.

I had numerous chats with the man who was their accountant at the time, and eventually some interest was paid. It was never automatic and always took effort on my part.

Eventually, after many months, a few houses started to come through, but were few and far between. It took until about September 2008, just prior to the crash when something suitable came through which Liam sent via email himself. I got the wheels rolling and went for it, and about two weeks into the deal, Natwest, their mortgage backer, pulled the 85% LTV products.

My deal was now going to be on the rocks as the figures didn’t stack up for me. I had found the estate agents who were marketing the property earlier on in the due diligence process, and I contacted them to say sorry, but it wasn’t happening.

I received a call from them a few weeks later to say the vendors had reduced the price and was I still interested. I eventually completed on the property in March 2009. I saw the place for the 1st time on the day of completion.

This is now where the real problems started for me when dealing with CBS.

I wanted to get the ball rolling as soon as, so discussed if it was still possible, as my house was in pretty good shape, to achieve the stated 28 day turnaround time for renovations. I then received an email from Rachael Bone to say that they had a renovation team waiting to go in, ‘chomping at the bit’ were the words I seem to remember, and that they wanted the rest of the money to make up the £20,140, the cost of converting a three bed into a four bed, to the so called “High CBS standard”.

I discussed this with their accountant, and said that he owed me about four months of interest on my deposit and I would be deducting this from any payment. He agreed and foolishly I went ahead with a CHAPS transfer, for the difference. Here is where experience was sadly lacking on my part because I should have had a hard and fast schedule of works etc before going ahead, and if they were professional this would all have been in place as part of a regular procedure, and not for clients to second-guess.

I waited for updates for at least three weeks, and none were forthcoming so I tried to contact anyone at CBS, to no avail. Eventually, after leaving things a bit longer, thinking all must be near completion by now, I did manage to get through to Rachael Bone, but she always seemed to duck the answer, and would say she would get back to me. Quite a few weeks went by with no information either via email, despite many being sent to Liam and Rachael, or by phone.

All this time no-one was prepared to commit to letting me know how far my property had progressed. It really was like trying to get blood out of a stone. This continued through the best part of 2009, until an email from Liam which told us all about the company difficulties and their plans. After much pestering, I eventually got through to Liam. We then had a conversation in which he talked of Promissory Notes—something I’d not heard of, and said that I was going to receive one as well.

I fought for a six-month note, and managed to get one eventually, instead of the 1 year note they wanted to give me, as I was now in difficulty trying to get any more finance to finish my house. Unfortunately I was sucked in by the smoothness and friendliness of Davey and Liam in all our conversations, and I was still coming down on their side with regard to all the PNs, etc.

It wasn’t until Davey called me up to see if I wanted to sell my house to the ’Irishman’ that I managed to get him to go around and see the progress of the renovations. He called me back next day; note that this was now around December 2009—8 months after completing—to say that nothing had been done except for some 'rip out.'

This is where I make mistake number 2.  I now let Davey convince me that if I could raise the finance, he would get a quote to get the place ready for student letting, using his team from Newcastle, COMPLETE BUILDING SOLUTIONS, which was managed by their renovations manager Paul MacDonald. He would make sure it was at cost only, with no profit for them.

I was desperate to get some income coming in and did not want to miss another student year. The quote sounded reasonable, and as I lived so far away and had no contacts in the area regarding building works, I said I would agree, but only if I could pay with staged payments. This was agreed and I was sent some pretty poor mobile phone pictures of progress. Again, if I had had the time I would dearly have liked to pay a visit and see for myself, especially before the last payment. The Hindsight Club says, 'Never again!'

The place was completed in Feb 2010 and remained empty; as I was so tied up with these guys now I even let DIGGS, their associated lettings company, manage it for me. I paid a visit to the property in about June, and was not overly impressed with what I had got for my extra money. The loft hatch had been left open and the whole place had suffered condensation as a result. I now had to get this cleared up, too. The bathroom floor was not tiled, even though the emailed bill of works from Paul Mac had stated that it was. There were numerous items of deficiency which I duly listed and told them to correct.

It was let out in July that year to 3 students who moved in, in September. Rent was always erratic, and every time I called DIGGS I would be fobbed off with all types of excuses. Sometimes it would be 3 months rent in one lump, making up for no rent for the the previous two months. I managed to get away from DIGGS shortly after Patrick Collins came to take over.  I think he got fed up with my pestering, and he let me transfer to another agent.

The biggest shock came in July 2011, when after all the paperwork had been passed over, the new agent could not find the electrical periodical inspection certificate. DIGGS swore blind that one had been current, because they had all seen it in the file. I then started to call around all the certifying bodies to see if it was on record. Of the many I spoke to, none had any evidence of it.

I then got somebody reputable to carry it out for me, and to my dismay and anger I discovered that many of the items Paul Macdonald had said would be done regarding electrical works, had not been.

The most serious failures were as follows:

    1. The agreed edition 17 regulation fuse box had not been fitted, the original outdated box was still in place.
    2. The biggest concern was that the smoke detectors had been wired up incorrectly, and would not have worked at all.

Please note that these workers did many of the renovations for CBS and I therefore warn all of you to check carefully any electrical work they are supposed to have done on your own property. I was disgusted that they could jeopardise the lives of my tenants, and totally compromise my position as landlord at the same time.

I have foolishly trusted these guys and kick myself for doing so. They have tarnished my faith in human nature, and no doubt for a lot of you also. I had to pay an extra £500 to get the defects rectified and a new certificate, and Rachael and Davey agreed last August 2011, after I suggested it, that they would pay me £250 in both September and October. I am still waiting.

I suggest that if they are sincere about paying us back, then they should put all their remaining properties into a trust for us all. I have information that at one time their combined portfolio was bringing in about £20,000 a month. Multiply that by 12, and you have £240,00 a year. If you knock off £ 40,000 for operating costs, it still means in 5 years we have accumulated £1,000,000 towards paying down the debt. Perhaps we can each own a proportion of the portfolio based on how much each individual is owed.

As their 'Faces of Disco' business seems to be doing well, according to the website, they can dance for a living. Hopefully that will keep them busy enough to stay away from the property business.

To date I am still owed £20,140 + £500 for the extra work, and many months of lost rent, and sleep, from an uninhabitable property. The rent was supposed to be guaranteed even if it was empty, according to their contract."


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