Fraud

Queensland business owner fined $50,000 after pleading guilty to sending unsolicited invoices

Dominic Powell /

A Brisbane-based business operator has been fined a total of $50,000 for fraudulent activity, including sending businesses invoices for unsolicited services and making false and misleading representations.

The Queensland Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigated Amanda Jane Stichbury after finding she had sent invoices to businesses across the country for services they had never requested.

Stichbury was fined $10,000 in the Southport Magistrates Court earlier this month, and her three businesses were fined a total of $40,000. Stichbury is the sole director of her three businesses, Accommodation Find Pty Ltd, Internet Find Pty Ltd, and Special Days Pty Ltd.

A total of 166 infringement counts were brought against Stichbury, who pleaded guilty to all of them. Invoices sent to businesses implied she had previous relations with the businesses, according to a report on the decision from OFT, which was not the case.

“Ms Stichbury’s business model was based almost entirely on deception, and sought to prey upon time-poor businesses simply paying an invoice without enquiring into it too deeply,” OFT director Brian Bauer said in a statement.

“Such behaviour has no place in Queensland, and the OFT will continue to vigorously pursue any unscrupulous traders intentionally misleading other businesses or consumers.”

This is not the first time Stichbury has been fined as a result of action by the OFT – as she ordered to pay $18,000 in fines after a previous conviction for similar offences in 2014, according to the OFT statement.

According to ScamWatch, there were 14,634 reports of false billing scams over 2016, and commercial lawyer with TressCox Lawyers Tony Mylne tells SmartCompany these sorts of scams are more common than you’d think.

“The Gold Coast especially is rumoured to be the centre of this behaviour, there have been various scam rooms set up there,” Mylne says.

“This wouldn’t be an isolated incident.”

Mylne believes the success and prevalence of such scams are “a symptom of a busy society”.

“Ten years ago this wouldn’t have happened, I think it’s very symptomatic of how busy people are today. We see these scams in domestic situations too, so it’s not just businesses affected,” he says.

The amounts Stichbury and her businesses have been fined is “pretty significant” says Mylne.

The OFT urges businesses to be vigilant when paying invoices, and Mylne echoes those statements but also urges action from any businesses who have been affected.

“All convictions made by the OFT rely on people being vigilant and following through with complaints to authorities. Some people could be scammed and not know about it, or just don’t follow through with complaints,” he says.

“A successful scam like this can go uncovered for a long time. The prevalence of occurrence doesn’t match up with the prevalence of prosecution.”

As for businesses wanting to avoid costly fake invoicing errors, Mylne advises stronger invoice vetting across multiple people.

“The target for these scams are businesses without strong invoice control,” he says.

“All it takes is someone who’s not on their game and being pressured for payment. Implement stronger controls for who can and can’t authorise payments.”

SmartCompany contacted Stichbury and her businesses but did not receive a response prior to publication.

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Dominic Powell

Dominic Powell is a journalist at SmartCompany and a tech and music geek. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading or browsing record shops.

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  • jota6689

    And when are similar fraud proceedings and fines going to be issued to centrelink execs and the responsible Minister for engaging in the same scam practices. The governments illegal actions act as ‘permission’ for everyone else to do the same thing. The decision should be appealed

    • VSpark

      Are you seriously suggesting that there is a similarity and that the decision should be appealed? Also, are you seriously suggesting that the Government’s inept attempts to recover overpayments of taxpayer funds to certain people is permission to everyone else to engage in fraud?

  • Bill Chan

    If the entire business in question is all about sending out fake invoices then why is it still allowed to run after repeated offences?

  • Charles Stanton

    I have received similar invoice from same company in NSW. My complaints to NSW Fair Trading and ASIC has fallen on deaf years. It is a breach of the Corporations Act and ASIC can jail this person. No they won’t!! Toothless tigers.

  • Tourism and Travel

    Amanda Stichbury and all those companies and websites she manages have been sending out those fake invoices and email requests for payment for almost a decade. This is cheating businesses out of money and her conduct was described as “deceptive”. Finally glad to see her fronting court. Seems like this is her second appearance – she obviously didn’t learn first time around. Google her name or company names and see the bad publicity she has received over the years.