The corporate regulator has frozen the accounts of three Brisbane businesses that allegedly used cold calling and a website to seduce investors in order to deposit more than $1 million, promising they would provide shares with returns above current markets.
The order is the latest in a series of investment frauds, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission says. Similar schemes are on the rise as investors hungry for solid returns search for alternative methods of investment.
The order comes after injunctions were already made against the companies, which include Secured Collateral, Diversified Collateral and Intra Management.
ASIC alleges the companies used cold calling to entice people into handing over money that would be used, the companies argued, to buy shares and generate returns above market rates.
But ASIC says none of the businesses held a financial services licence or were even authorised through a licensee.
The regulator also argues that the directors behind the companies, Keiron Weertman, Dylan Robson and Shane Hassell, withdrew the money from the company bank accounts in cash – as much as $700,000 of the $1 million deposited.
"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," it said.
The regulator also said it couldn't find any evidence the men bought any shares with the money.
The rising number of investment scams has been on ASIC's radar for some time and many operate in the same way: they call "victims" by telephone and convince them to invest in the scheme. The fraudsters then show the "clients" a website that shows them getting better than expected returns, but the website itself is a fake.
"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."
The order in this particular case has frozen $273,000 in three separate bank accounts, with the three directors also barred from leaving Australia.