The owner of a Western Australia brokerage has suggested that the ASIC register is making it easier for online scammers to defraud firms and their customers.
Alex Palmer, owner of WA brokerage Mercury Money, is assisting police after being defrauded by scammers posing as the broking group, and told The Adviser that the regulator’s publicly available website may be enabling them to pull off the stunt.
“The troubling thing is that basically all the scammers did was go onto the ASIC website and download all of my information,” Mr Palmer said.
“When you go on the ASIC website, you can see company registrations and licence numbers. All of that was just downloaded directly from ASIC – anybody can do it.”
However, an ASIC spokesperson told The Adviser the regulator is required by law to make certain details available to the public, with all information provided by authorised parties.
“Scammers employ a range of tactics to lure people to part with their money,” the spokesperson said.
“They will say they are approved or associated with reputable organisations or government agencies to convince people of their legitimacy.
“We advise consumers to remain vigilant and be mindful that when searching ASIC registers for licensed lenders, scammers also have access to this information.”
Mr Palmer first found out about the scam at Mercury Money a month ago, when a client brought his attention to it.
“A client walked into my office and looked up on the wall to check my ABN registrations, company number and then said ‘I applied for a loan with you’, and I said ‘Sorry, no you didn’t’. We went through what had happened and then I took them down to the local police station,” he said.
Mr Palmer noted that none of his customers have been affected due to quick action but said there are a number of other Australian brokerages that haven’t been as fortunate.
“I found out during the last month that one broker in Sydney has still got the scam going on and it’s been running for well over a year using his name, and there’s a dozen or more around Australia that have had the same scam done to them,” he said.
“The government needs to be spending more money on sorting out these internet scams because they’re targeting the vulnerable.”
[Related: Loan fraud on ASIC's radar]