12-265MR ASIC obtains orders freezing bank accounts of Brisbane ‘cold callers’
Thursday 1 November 2012
ASIC has obtained interim court orders against the operators of three Brisbane-based unlicensed financial services business, preventing them from carrying on their activities and freezing money held in three bank accounts.
The orders, obtained yesterday, follow the granting of injunctions, obtained ex parte, on 18 October 2012, in the Supreme Court of Queensland against Secured Collateral Pty Ltd (Secured Collateral), Diversified Collateral Pty Ltd (Diversified Collateral), Intra Management Pty Ltd (Intra Management), Keiron Michael Weertman, Dylan Robson and Shane Rodney Hasell (the respondents).
ASIC alleged that Secured Collateral, Diversified Collateral and Intra Management used cold calling and a website to induce investors to deposit funds into a number of bank accounts held in the names of Secured Collateral, Diversified Collateral and Intra Management with the promise that the funds would be used to buy shares on behalf of the investors and generate returns well above markets. ASIC alleges none of the respondents hold an Australian financial services (AFS) licence or are authorised through an AFS licensee.
ASIC further alleged that Messrs Weertman, Robson and Hasell, the sole directors of Secured Collateral, Diversified Collateral and Intra Management, respectively, withdrew the money from company bank accounts in cash. ASIC’s enquiries to date have not been able to substantiate that shares were purchased by Secured Collateral, Diversified Collateral and Intra Management on behalf of investors. ASIC is aware at this stage of its investigation that between late May 2012 to mid-October 2012 approximately $1,001,000 had been deposited to the accounts and approximately $708,000 of those funds has been withdrawn.
The injunctions restrain the respondents from further promoting or carrying on the businesses or any other financial services business including dealing with approximately $273,000 held in three bank accounts.
The respondents must suspend all internet websites within their power or control promoting, advertising or offering financial services, in particular but not limited to the websites conducted with the domain name of www.securedprivatewealth.com and are to refrain from publishing any internet website promoting, advertising or offering financial services.
The orders also prohibit Messrs Weertman, Robson and Hasell from leaving Australia without the consent of the court.
The injunctions remain in place until further order.
This action is an example of the investment frauds about which ASIC and state and territory police services have been warning consumers. There has been a rise in this activity over the last 12 months.
The companies behind these frauds are predominantly based on the Gold Coast (although their registered office might be anywhere in Australia) but investors are targeted all over the country.
The fraudsters usually contact their victims by telephone and convince them to invest in schemes involving the purchase of shares or investment in index funds or currency trading schemes. Once an investment is made, the fraudsters provide access to a website that shows projected returns however those returns are completely fictitious. These fraudsters operate without Australian financial services (AFS) licences and use false addresses and phone lines routed often to another address. In the vast majority of cases, investors lose all of their money.
Significant features of this type of scam are:
Victims are initially cold called by a person purporting to survey their interest in investing generally.
The promoters are adopting the company names of legitimate companies who are licensed to provide financial services.
The scam is supported by sophisticated internet technology including a website which purports to provide investors with real-time information in relation to their trading.
Victims are lured with promises of high returns and then subjected to pressure in order to induce them to hand over their money.
When a person falls victim a first time, they are often called back and encouraged to invest in a more sophisticated trading strategy which requires even more money.
Tips and advice on what to do if you are suddenly and unexpectedly telephoned by somebody trying to sell you a financial product are available on ASIC’s Moneysmart website at www.moneysmart.gov.au/scams.
And remember the golden rule – it if sounds too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.