March 12th 2021

CFX has come calling again. This is the fifth or sixth time in the past year that a good friend has offered me the chance to make a lot of money very fast.

So why have I given them a polite “No, thank you?” And what has all this to do with sailing?

Well, this blog is about making dreams come true – and that’s what the slick CFX website seems to promise: If I give the company my money, they will trade it on the foreign exchange markets and make me more than I could dream possible. 15% a month has been mentioned – even 15% a week.

I could pay for the new propeller shaft. I could have a mainsail without grotty rust stains on it.

But still, I said no. It seems I have been here before.

In 2016 I had been plodding along with my little home business for eleven years. It was making me good money – in fact, it was my major source of income. But I was not rich.

How would I like to be rich? Imagine having more money than I could reasonably spend? That kind of rich?

Of course, it sounded too good to be true  – and you know what they say about things that sound too good to be true…

But that is a cheap excuse. I hear it all the time from people who would rather rely on their day job instead of starting something of their own on the side.

So I looked into it. The company was called USI TECH. It stood for United Software Intelligence. The idea behind it was that, as everyone knows, the big banks and hedge funds use sophisticated software to make trades in nanoseconds – but they do so for the wealthiest 1% of investors. Ordinary people can’t hope to compete.

How would it be if a company had hundreds of thousands of investors – millions, even – each putting in a modest amount?

That was the idea, and you have to admit it made sense. But, in order to get enough investors, it would have to be a global business – and, since it would take years to achieve the necessary regulation in every country of the world, the investments would have to be made in the unregulated (and untraceable) Bitcoin. That made sense too.

More impressive, the people behind it gave interviews on the internet. You could look them up. One had an impressive record as CEO or a large security company. Just in case anyone still had doubts, USI cleared its legal status with a top US firm of attorneys. You could download their report…

Sure enough, my money grew at an impressive rate. As soon as I had doubled it, I withdrew half, which meant I couldn’t lose. Besides, I wanted to check that it was legitimate before telling my friends.

Then the company issued me with an ATM card. Every night, when I walked the dog, I  would go to the bank and withdraw £245 – the daily maximum. I remember that after a while, I began to think of it as something of a chore. Can you believe that?

I told my friends. They made money too – and the more they made, the more the company paid me as a thank-you for helping it to grow.  I revised my boat budget upwards – and then upwards again.

Yet still, there were the doubters – Facebook was full of what we called “Haters” – people who distrusted anything new and exciting. We shook our heads over people like that – doomed to work all their lives in boring jobs to end up J.O.B (Just Over Broke).

USI began to take over the world. On the Pacific island of Guam, a member of the local legislature promoted it. The whole place went mad. People invested their life savings. They took out second mortgages…

Next, the company staged an extravagant convention at a hotel near Heathrow Airport. The faithful flew in from all over the world. Top performers received Rolex watches.

During the breaks, the directors came down off the stage and mingled with the investors. I shook hands with one of them, a cheerful German named Ralf Gold. I asked him why the company chose to be registered as an offshore entity in the UAE – didn’t that make it look suspicious?

He said: “Why should we open ourselves to regulation when we don’t need to?”

In the afternoon, there were more exciting announcements – more investment opportunities to make us richer still.

In the car on the way home, people had their phones out, getting in early, paying even more Bitcoin into the untraceable account.

Meanwhile, the value of Bitcoin was going up and up. Unbelievably, it was closing on $20,000. None of us paused to think that maybe it kept going up because more and more people were buying it to invest in USI – which in turn switched on the currency traders and boosted it further still.

About a month after this, the company shut down operations in the USA, freezing all the money invested there. They blamed the government regulators. Then the ATM cards stopped working – that was the fault of Visa and Mastercard.

It wasn’t long before the website shut down. That meant the money disappeared – just like that.

So did the three directors, including the affable Herr Gold.

Who knows where they are now. South America? With new identities and new faces thanks to Brazil’s famously skilful plastic surgeons?

Yes, I did feel a fool. Yes, I felt embarrassed that I encouraged my friends to join me – and for what it’s worth, the friend who recruited me still feels embarrassed. I’ve forgiven him because life is too short to hold a grudge.

But if you are thinking of prospecting me with CFX, no doubt you will tell me that this is different. The people behind it have impeccable track records. They work with licenced companies which are fully regulated – although, of course, they themselves are not (see above). I am afraid I remain sceptical.

I cannot say for sure that my friends who have invested will one day lose their money and find themselves embarrassed as I was.

However, I do think there are just too many similarities. If I made the same mistake a second time, I would feel such a fool.

So, if you have been, thank you for thinking of me.

But, I am happy as I am. My little home business plods along even though I neglected it so cruelly and chased after an illusion. It pays me every month as it always has – and does so whether I am in harbour working for an hour a day on the phone, or sitting in the sun in the middle of an ocean, watching the dolphins and listening to downloads on Spotify.

Admittedly, it still doesn’t pay me enough to buy a flashy new boat.

But it did buy me this one.