A broker whose company fell victim to con artists has slammed ASIC's response to the matter, and urged brokers in similar situations to go over the regulator's head.
Earlier this month, Australian Broker reported on fraudulent home loan group Mike Morgan Loans, which was sending unsolicited emails to consumers. Australian Broker can now reveal the website for the scam artists was stolen part and parcel - including photos, logos and even parts of broker bios - from a legitimate Australian brokerage, which wishes to remain anonymous. The brokerage brought the Mike Morgan site to ASIC's attention, and its director told Australian Broker the regulator's response was less than impressive.
"[ASIC handled it] poorly. They were extremely slow to reply and you would assume they would have been able to give better direction in relation to how the website can be closed down," he said.
The company had to wait three months for any action by ASIC on the matter. After bringing the fraudulent site to the watchdog's attention in May, ASIC did not issue a warning until late August.
Even after the ASIC warning, the fraudulent Mike Morgan site remained active, still using the logo, staff names and photos of the legitimate brokerage. The director said the company eventually had to move beyond ASIC to involve the Australian Federal Police, and eventually the FBI in the United States.
"There was a subsequent follow up phone call to the FBI who were able to shut the website down within 24 hours."
He advised brokers who find themselves the target of overseas scammers to seek help outside of ASIC.
"If it’s an international company that has established the sham website go straight to the federal police as ASIC only have power within Australia."