Cold-calling scam leads to asset freeze in $7M retail investor fraud
Australia financial regulator ASIC has announced that it has successfully applied to the Federal Court of Australia for urgent interim orders against NSW-based PW Kitt Co Pty Ltd and its sole director Larry John Dawson, in what appears to be a cold-calling scam.
On 7 August 2020, ASIC obtained urgent interim orders:
- to appoint receivers and managers to the property and assets of the defendants;
- for the receivers to provide a report to the Court and ASIC within 42 days regarding the affairs of the defendants;
- to stop the defendants from removing, dealing with or diminishing the value of property or assets, including funds in bank accounts held by the defendants; and
- to restrain Mr Dawson from leaving Australia.
ASIC said that its application was based on concerns that the defendants obtained almost $7 million in Australian investor funds by cold-calling Australian consumers and operating the websites smsfadvisory.com and pwkittco.com.
ASIC submitted to the Court that the defendants were using the same or substantially similar company and business names to an unrelated business SMSF Advisory Services Pty Ltd and P.W. Kitt & Co. It is also alleged that the defendants used the Australian financial services (AFS) licence number of another company.
ASIC remains concerned that the defendants appear to have no connection with those businesses and hold no licence or authority to deal in financial products or provide financial services.
Michael John Hill, Anthony Norman Connelly and Katherine Sozou of McGrathNicol have been appointed as receivers and managers to the property and assets of the defendants. The receivers are required to report back to the Court concerning the affairs of the defendants by 18 September 2020.
ASIC commenced this investigation as part of its response to the increase in financial scam activity arising during the COVID-19 pandemic. This action demonstrates ASIC’s readiness to take urgent action to protect vulnerable consumers in the current environment.
The matter will return before the Court on 27 August 2020. ASIC said that its investigation is ongoing.