The Western Australian government has warned brokers of online scamming after a brokerage and its customers were defrauded.
The government’s ScamNet resource said it had been contacted by consumers in the past few weeks after being defrauded by scammers posing as WA broking firm and ACL-holder Mercury Money.
According to the consumer protection group, consumers filled in online applications for unsecured loans and after receiving email confirmation of their acceptance, were asked to pay establishment fees or loan insurance into bank accounts based in Australia or New Zealand.
“One man lost $6,000 and one woman paid $4,000. Two men almost paid $1,200 each and one woman sent $980 offshore to India – all three of these people contacted the real Mercury Money and discovered the truth,” it said.
Alex Palmer, owner of Mercury Money, has been helping the WA police with their investigation into the matter, and was one of the initial people to report the scheme after being contacted by consumers dealing with the fake version of Mercury Money.
Mr Palmer has been advising people that it is a scam before they transferred funds, and has also posted a warning on his website.
In the last 12 months, WA ScamNet has received reports from 17 people who have lost more than $40,000 by paying fees or insurance upfront for non-existent finance after applying for loans online.
[Related: Lawyer sentenced for home loan fraud]