After recent events with Kuetzal and Envestio going offline and investors potentially losing up to 35 million EUR, some are worried - that there could be more shady platforms that are collecting “donations“ from naive investors. One of the names I've heard most often is FastInvest - so I will try to find out, if there are any reasons for concern?
While other P2P platforms are crashing & burning, Fast Invest team seem to be having a good time. This was their recent email to investors:
FAST INVEST team would like to share the best emotions and experiences from the team-building trip to Dubai.
As a team, we build up some tight bonds, bolster trust, and extend understanding. As we comprehend, team performance is directly proportional to team stability. FAST INVEST has a focus on building and maintaining a stable team. Balance reduces friction and increases credibility, confidence, and trust.
Our magical trip to Dubai brought us lifetime memories and experiences - full of joy, laughter, and explorations. We came back stronger as a team and prepared for the new upcoming challenges. Refilled energy bars give us the strength to make the next impossible possible.
We are ready, are you?
Looks impressive - if all these people are working for Fast Invest - that means 28 employees in total, and probably a burn rate of about 80-100k EUR per month just for salaries, office and these kind of trips:
But of course - I am interested in more details, not only nice pictures. So I started by opening their website. That did not go well:
For some strange reason Latvia is on their “black list” of countries. And I cannot understand, why? I mean - if we look at other platforms like Mintos, Twino - they started in Latvia and have grown to be one of top players in this industry, so why are investors from Latvia not allowed to invest? This already makes me suspicious and contradicts something they have said in an interview:
Fast Invest investing in issued consumer loans are open to everyone who has a bank account in their name in the European Union. Of course, the investor must be at least 18 years old.
I wanted to have a look at their team, so I tried an online service called GeoPeeker - that shows how website is looking from different locations in the world:
Ok, so investors from Singapore, Brazil, Ireland and even Australia are allowed to access the website, but not investors from Latvia or USA? The only explanation for this that I can think of - they do not want to fuck with USA, most of ICOs also banned investors from USA. Because if SEC, FBI or any other US law enforcement agency wants to find you, they will. But what about Latvia? Maybe for investors from Latvia it would be super easy to do due diligence, and many have contacts across all Baltic countries?
Maybe there is some perfect, reasonable explanation, so lets move on. As many know, most of P2P platforms are not regulated in any way, so the first things I would like to understand are simple yes/no answers to following questions:
Professional leadership team with good reputation?
Legal owner & address raise no questions?
No strange changes in ownership?
No strange things in terms & conditions?
Contacts, team available for support & meeting in person?
Legal agreement available about any loan, project where you invested?
Interest payments look “real”
Realistic returns - either no guarantees and high % or guarantees and low %
Information about a loan/project is proportional to money asked? If there are any claims about guarantees, pledges, collaterals - can those be verified?
Solid history - at least 3 years in business?
If you can get these answers, then you should be able to have some idea how much can you trust the platform with your investment. And in my opinion that is the main thing - because without any regulation you are basically giving your investment to some random company that might change their terms at any time and might as well disappear the next day. And then good luck with finding the team, real owners or getting any money back.
1. Professional leadership team with good reputation?
Simona Vaitkune is the co-founder and CEO at Fast Invest, so let’s have a look at her LinkedIn profile first:
What? No profile picture - that is strange, but guess what worries me the most? Fast Invest is the only job experience she has ever had. So how did that start? Let’s read a quote from an interview:
How Vaitkune’s career began
In 2015, Simona Vaitkune was an ambitious and driven individual working in the lending sector. Her personal need to create an additional income stream led to an in-depth investigation of the available options — and a gap in the market became apparent.
She vowed to create a platform, which makes investing accessible to those who want to set themselves up for greater financial security in the future but don’t know much about the industry — and may not have much money to start with.
And that’s how Fast Invest was born.
Cool story, but suddenly I have some more questions:
If Simona was already working in lending sector before Fast Invest, why is that not mentioned on her LinkedIn profile?
If Fast Invest was born only in 2015, then how is it possible, that she was set up as a director for Fast Invest already in 2013?
How is it possible that Fast Invest was registered in 20 December, 2012 and up to December of 2015 was called BIG CREDIT LIMITED?
Sorry, I have already lost trust in her, but I must admit - she is very good looking and maybe can achieve a lot with charm. Reminds me of Elizabeth Holmes.
But again - if we look behind - the picture falls apart. Let me give you another quote from an interview:
Maybe someone reading this will think - “wow, nice, an innovative fintech company”. But the reality is that the only safe, transparent, stable working blockchain is Bitcoin. And the drawback of all these nice features is slow speed, so you cannot have both. And if Simona says otherwise - then either she has no idea what she is talking about or is claiming impossible stuff on purpose, but in any case - another reason to stay away.
2. Legal owner & address raise no questions?
Simona, the CEO of Fast Invest, was born in 1995, so she was only 18 years old when she got appointed as company director in 2013. The info she provides in LinkedIn and interviews contradicts the facts that can be verified in UK company register.
On their website Fast Invest are showing only their legal address in UK, but all the team is actually located in Kaunas, Lithuania. Why is this office and Kaunas address hidden? Reminds of Kuetzal and Envestio.
3. No strange changes in ownership?
You can see that over the years there have been changes, and 3 different directors have been appointed and later resigned. All are much older than Simona and my guess - maybe someone of them is the “real“ owner. And of course - none of them are mentioned in the Fast Invest team page.
But Genadij Anthony Fomki was listed as President and Chairman of Fast Invest on this ICO website. Another interesting place where I found Genadijs name was in Jorgens review of Fast Invest, in the comment section:
I’m P2P investor from Lithuania and looking to various P2P platforms to diversify my portfolio. These guys are based in Lithuania, yet I haven’t seen much/if any info about them in local P2P forums and I found this strange/curious. There was some talk about them in Traders.lt where people called them scammers outright, so I thought I’ll do bit of digging myself. There was one article in that forum that is very interesting:
Use google translate to get a sense what this article, but in short it talks about a failed credit union called “Taupkase”. People lost money, there are significant suspicions relating to accounting fraud, embezzlement, strange lending practices to related parties, misuse of depositors money (expensive cars, posh apartments that had no use for credit unions core business etc.).
One interesting episode there, where in 2016 shareholder meeting they voted to distribute over 700k euro in bonuses to the members of the union’s credit committee. A credit union with some 20mil euro in assets and credit committee that oversaw only up to 120k euro in credit lines are voted to get over 700k euro in bonuses! (it’s not just my surprise, this was also a surprised reaction from bankruptcy administrator). This decision was later overturned by Highest Court in Lithuania and Financial Crime Investigation Service (FNTT) had started an inquiry into this matter:
Why I’m talking about this seemingly irrelevant subject you’d ask, well, that 15min.lt article has an interesting screenshot of the list of 16 people who voted to distribute that insane bonus to the Union’s credit committee members. And what are the names of that list? You can see:
9. Simona Vaitkune (CEO of Fast Invest).
8. Zilvinas Vaitkunas (Simona’s husband).
11. Elena Vaitkune ( allegedly Zilvinas’s mother who was up until recently 100% shareholder of Fast invest Ltd)
2. Sergej Scerbakov (former director of Fast Invest Ltd),
4 Genadij Fomkin (allegedly the same Genadij Anthoni Fomki, former director and Simona’s relative.) CEO of that “Taupkase” CU was Loreta Fomkina (for what I can only assume is the wife of this Genadij Fomkin). Does it not look suspicious that so many key people from this failed credit union are or were involved in Fast Invest (including Simona)?
I think the key person in this puzzle is Simona’s husband – Zilvinas Vaitkunas. He was on the board of directors of this Taupkase, but was removed from the board on 2015 by direction of the Central Bank of Lithuania for pledging Taupkase Credit Union’s assets against liabilities of his personal companies:
You’d say, OK, but Simona is “self made”, perhaps with the help of rich relatives, but she did it herself. Let’s look at the filing history of this now failed company called Fast Investment LTD (name sounds a bit similar to Fast Invest LTD, doesn’t it?). The director at the time of liquidation in 2016 was Zilvinas Vaitkunas (her husband) and perhaps most interestingly the only shareholder was Elena Vaitkuniene (allegedly Zilvinas’s mother). Same Elena Vaitkuniene was the 100% shareholder of the Fast Invest Ltd up until very recently.
Simona claimed that she had “purchased” the company, but how come there are only changes in directorship, but not the ownership? The 100% owner remained the same Elena Vaitkuniene pretty much throughout the life of the company. She claims to have worked so hard to build the company, yet the company is not registered in her name, why? And what is all that deal with “Taupkase”?
Oh and that’s a nice car with a nice number plate!
A curious detail about cars: that FNTT article has one sentence: “It was found that one of the leaders of the union rides a luxury car “Hummer”, but lives in a municipality-owned apartment.”.
Last registered address of now defunct Fast Investment Ltd was Kvieciu g.5, Vilnius, Lithuania. (That’s the one where Simona’s husband was a director). You go into Google street view and …. there is a Hammer just around the corner beside that house!!! What a coincidence, or is it??
You add the above to the other strange facts for example that it’s not available Lithuania, because of hackers (?!?!). Well, those “hackers” I suspect is Lithuanian Central Bank and FNTT. And what about those PO Box addresses claiming to be actual offices with people? Or that they do not disclose the loan originators? And by the way she is a CEO of BC Finance, a fast credit originator that has 5 employees and shares office with Fast Invest Ltd:
Is she feeding funds into her own lending company? We won’t know, because of “confidentiality”.
I have more questions than answers, but I think at least for myself I know enough to to make a decision to pass on this platform.
Happy New Year and stay safe and keep your money safe!
Wow, Jørgen does it again - he has this info in comments sitting there already since late 2018, but instead of you know, actually being a bit skeptical or warning others, what was his response? The same positive, “everything is fine” attitude as always:
Whenever I talk to Simona she seems genuinely keen on building a good and transparent company. I’ll need to see that it’s not only a vision, but that she is actually going to follow through by disclosing the loans originators etc. before I deposit more.
Having a platform to “feed own lending companies” is a legit business strategy used by other platforms such as Twino, Robocash, PeerBerry and Swaper. I don’t think it’s a problem if she owns one of the loan originators, I might even consider it an advantage. Time will tell when the loan originators are disclosed.
But don't be worried about Jørgen too much - he has invested only 1.3% of his portfolio in Fast Invest, so this will not be a big loss.
If we get back to topic - just by looking at changes of directors in this company, we have found so much suspicious stuff and red flags about these people, that I could stop wasting time on more research and just claim that Fast Invest is radioactive.
4. No strange things in terms & conditions?
This is one of the weirdest “Terms“ I've read. You as an investor are called “Assignee“ in their “REGULATIONS FOR THE USE OF THE WEB PAGE“, and you can “purchase“ claims, but you won't get to see any documents about it, and you agree that everything related to that is verified by “Assignor“ (Fast Invest).
1.3. Assignee - an individual or legal entity registered on the Web Page, who has purchased the right to Claim against the Borrower.
1.7. Assignor - the Creditor that transfers a right to claim (Claim) against the Borrower resulting from the Loan Agreement to the Assignee according cooperation between the Assignor and the Lender.
6.9. All the documents regarding the Claim are kept by Assignor and are not transferred to the Assignee.
6.15. The Assignee is informed and agrees that Assignor is responsible for the authenticity and truthfulness of the Claim.
But it gets better - investors are not allowed to complain about this agreement:
Assignee refuses to submit any claims against Assignor in this respect regarding the fact that these provisions have not been discussed or have been unilaterally imposed by Assignor
Investors are not allowed to share the agreement:
9.6. The Assignee undertakes not to disclose the information related to this Agreement, which might affect the interests of Assignor or the Borrower, to any third persons.
Fast Invest can block your access, delete your profile if you violate their absurd agreement:
13.4. Assignor may limit the Assignee’s ability to use the Web Page, block the Assignee’s profile or unilaterally terminate this Agreement and delete the Assignee’s profile in the following cases:
13.4.1. if the Assignee violates the provisions of this Agreement or the Assignment Agreement;
5. Contacts, team available for support & meeting in person?
If we ignore the thing, that I cannot even view their website from Latvia, the response to question is still: No. Only UK legal address is mentioned on website. No address, phone of their real office. And no contacts of management team. As we can see from online reviews, P2P bloggers are approved for “special“ meetings in person, but it was the same also in Envestio and Kuetzal. How did that turn out?
6. Legal agreement available about any loan, project where you invested?
7. Interest payments look “real”?
No, nothing looks real in Fast Invest.
8. Realistic returns - either no guarantees and high % or guarantees and low %?
No, they have a very high 14% interest paid to investors for consumer loans together with unrealistic promises - all loans have not only buyback, but also “default“ guarantee. And there is no info about loan originators, the only response from Fast Invest - “they have confidential agreements”. So investors cannot verify any of claims about loan originators, borrowers or guarantees.
9. Information about a loan/project is proportional to money asked? If there are any claims about guarantees, pledges, collaterals - can those be verified?
No, nothing can be verified. It can be seen from Google searches, that many people have asked the same questions - about Loan originators, guarantees etc., but there is no proof or a reasonable explanation given.
10. Solid history - at least 3 years in business?
Yes. Not sure what is the “real“ starting date of Fast Invest business, but the legal entity behind the company is active since 2012.
Not bad - I got 1 “yes“ and 9 “no“, so I have zero trust in this platform and their team. I give a 90% chance it will shut down in a similar fashion as other shady platforms, but again - please do your own research and make your own decisions.
And note - if there are issues with payments or changing bank accounts - together with other troubling signs that should be a big cause for concern:
Fast Invest failed fast - took me 4h to be convinced that this “business“ has lot of red flags similar to recently shut down P2P platforms.
If you see transparency mentioned in marketing, there probably is none.
The team and their reputation is bad. Place more trust in their previous actions than in their current promises.
No one reads the Terms and Agreements, but this one was a joke. I am not an expert in legal stuff, but I am quite sure that some of the things written there are not according to UK or EU laws.
If you cannot get reasonable answers to basic questions, there is a reason for that.
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