Police crack million-dollar-plus investment scam involving bikies
- The Courier-Mail
- February 06, 2014
The scam lured at least a dozen victims - mostly professionals from Queensland including one who lost $600,000 - with a website and glossy brochures while "cloning" the identity of a legitimate investment company in Perth.
Police have frozen $270,000 allegedly banked as profits from the scam, linked to companies and up to a dozen bank accounts, some set up directly by the Bandido and the Black Uhlan.
They also froze some $50,000 in assets including Louis Vuitton jewellery and a custom Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
Anti-bikie task force Maxima boss Mick Niland said the frozen funds were a "good start" for victims hailing from the Gold Coast to Toowoomba, Hervey Bay and north Queensland.
The scam was "sophisticated in ways and simplistic in other", according to Detective Inspector Phil Stevens of task force Maxima's Criminal Economy Unit.
Investors, some of whom have lost life savings, were invited to log on to a website to watch their apparently growing investments.
The Queensland-based scammers mimicked a Perth company called M6 Securities by registering a separate company M6 Security Group Pty Ltd, a website called M6 Treasury and using fake Perth addresses.
Some victims had sought to do due diligence by checking the company name - and getting false reassurance from seeing the registration of "M6 Securities".
The real M6 alerted Western Australia police to the scam after it was contacted by victims complaining they hadn't had funds reimbursed.
Queensland police were alerted last month.
The 33-year-old accused ringleader, who Det Inspector Stevens said lived an extravagant lifestyle with regular overseas trips, will face court tomorrow.
A "very close associate" of bikies, the accused fraudster had used a similar modus operandi since about 2008, using company names and address that "shadowed" real companies as a cloak of legitimacy, Det Stevens said.
"He is certainly skilled at his craft," Det Stevens said, adding the man appeared to have been running these kind of scams using "phoenix" companies to rake in the cash continuously over the last five years.
Detective Superintendent Niland said criminal intelligence told police that bikies had originally been used in these types of scams as "muscle to prevent victims making complaints to police".
But with an eye for an opportunity to make easy money, bikies themselves had "gone forward and actually have become part of these investment scams".
Police also executed raids yesterday relating to another million-dollar-plus scam - involving the sale of bogus betting software and also linked to bikies - but are yet to make arrests.