A South Australia-based broker contacted The Adviser, reporting he was defrauded of almost $1,000 after replying to an email from the lead generation business.
The email claimed it would supply leads to mortgage brokers and planners, with a claim of a “7 day return policy… no ongoing commission payments to us”.
The email lacked any phone number or links to a website and requested brokers “reply to this email with your name and number”.
The broker discovered it was a hoax after he purchased a list of 25 names and attempted to call them.
“About a third of the numbers were disconnected, and the ones that I did get on to had no idea what I was talking about... The list claimed some were purchasing a new home or refinancing, and not one turned out to be true,” he toldThe Adviser.
According to the broker, all communication associated with the purchase of the leads was conducted via email or from a blocked phone number, and he had to turn to the police for assistance.
He has since admitted that he should have seen the signs and warned other brokers to be more vigilant.
“I guess hindsight is 20/20, but there were things that should have raised a flag, but they just didn’t,” the broker said.
“Certain things [the salesperson at Leads with a Difference] said, like ‘Don’t call me until after you have paid’, did not ring any alarm bells.
“I didn’t even pause to think after I said I would pay $100 less than he was asking for, and he accepted. But at the time he sounded legitimate, and I thought I’d give him a go.”
According to general manager at AFG Mark Hewitt, brokers should always be on their guard when dealing with faceless businesses.
“It’s not exclusive to brokers, it happens in every walk of life,” he told The Adviser.
“Whenever you’re buying something unseen, like leads, your guard should be up and you need to do you research. Ask questions, demand samples or find out past conversion rates before you hand over any money.”
While the unnamed broker admitted he didn’t lose a lot of money, he believes that if a dozen or more brokers were to fall for this scam, the fraudster would make a handsome return from his fraudulent activities.
“I just want to make sure that no other brokers get targeted like I was,” the broker said.