A Melbourne teenager with entrepreneurial ambitions and a love of expensive fashion has been accused of convincing schoolmates from a string of elite high schools to invest $185,000 in his failed business venture.
The Herald Sun reports Alexander Beniac-Brooks, a former year 12 student at the exclusive Scotch College in Hawthorn, took money from a number of students across five private schools. He allegedly promised his peers they would get-rich-quick from investing in his business, which sold cheaply-made watches at a profit.
One student is believed to have paid Beniac-Brooks up to $150,000 to invest in the venture, while another investor told the Herald Sun he gave the teenager $1000 on the promise it would be more than doubled.
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“Lot of my mates got heaps of money back and it was all working. [It] varied from $500 to $5000 to $10,000,” said the investor.
“The more you gave the more you got back.”
Victoria Police confirmed to SmartCompany Boroondara Crime Investigation Unit detectives are investigating a number of reports made regarding possible deceptions.
“A number of victims reported the matter to police yesterday,” said first constable Bernadette Smith in a statement provide to SmartCompany.
“Detectives will now assess the matter to determine whether any crimes have been committed,” she said.
As the investigation was still in its infancy, Smith said it would be inappropriate to make further comment.
The Herald Sun reports Beniac-Brooks took money from customers via PayPal and delivered all goods purchased. It is also reported the family of the teenager has since repaid any outstanding debts to his schoolmate investors.
The Facebook profile of Beniac-Brooks, who lives in the upmarket Melbourne suburb of Kew with his family, shows a love of sneakers and high fashion. He is the member of 40 online groups that buy and sell fashion through the social media platform.
The Herald Sun has published a video posted by the teenager, where he talks about his love of fashion and business.
“I want to do my entrepreneurship more, “ he says in the video, “expand businesses I already have and then move overseas; experience the culture, the style.”
The Herald Sun reports Beniac-Brooks was also involved in an online sneaker business.
SmartCompany has found the domain gandashoes.com registered to an Alexander Beniac-Brooks from Kew, Victoria, through web hosting company Melbourne IT. The site has been taken down and a Facebook page for G&A Shoes appears to have been recently disabled.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission database shows no listing for G&A Shoes but does list Beniac-Brooks Pty Ltd as a registered business.
Rohan Harris, principal at law firm Russell Kennedy, told SmartCompany ASIC can take action against a managed investment scheme operated outside the Corporations Act, which states that anyone soliciting investment must have appropriate licences to do so.
“Speaking generally, if anyone offers an opportunity to the public to invest in a business opportunity, they need an Australian Financial Services license,” Harris says.
“Anyone asked to make an investment in a business opportunity must do the basic due diligence that anyone wanting to invest money should do, which includes making inquiries and asking further details about the opportunity,” he says.
SmartCompany contacted Scotch College but the school declined to comment.