Discovery Beach Australia or Discovery Beach International (they have a few names ...) are an 'investment' company that guarantee funding for small business. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!
We were looking to start up a new business and placed our details on a couple of reputable 'matchmaking' sites to find an investor. We were contacted by Discovery Beach in the UK and were offered the 'opportunity' to go through their software processing package to see if we were investment ready and if we had a business idea that they might be interested in investing in. This software cost us 400 and everything SEEMED okay so far. Then they contacted us after we sent through our completed programme and told us that they would be DELIGHTED to invest in our new business.
They strung us along for a few days with promises of all the great things they would do, and then they submitted a proposal for us to work with them on this new venture. Only it would cost 17,500 for us to enter into this agreement with them as, so they said, it would cost 30,000 to get us to an 'investment ready' level before they could invest. Great warning bells rang, but their Chairman (a Barrister in the NSW Supreme Court), is a fantastic salesman and he addressed all our concerns with the practised ease of an experienced salesman.
After deciding that we weren't going to go this route (after all, isn't funding supposed to be about getting cash INTO the business as opposed to OUT OF?) we sent them an email thanking them for their trouble and explaining that we could not afford the commitment they wanted.
The chairman then contacted us and explained - and oddly enough it all seemed very reasonable at the time - that it wasn't about the money, but about showing 'commitment' to the project. He explained it in a way that only a salesman can, and even kindly reduced the 'initial fee' to 3500 after we steadfastly said we weren't putting up 17500.
Even so, we said we couldn't afford it, but he found a way to convince us to borrow money on the basis of our business being a 'world leader' and with 'global potential'. We just couldn't let an opportunity like this slide. Then, when the chairman promised his 'personal guarantee' (he is, after all, a Barrister in the Supreme Court of New South Wales) of a triple return by December, we went ahead and scraped and borrowed money to make it work.
OF course, as with anything, as soon as the money is paid, the obligation is complete.
We were promised, in writing, that the business report would be ready within 3-5 weeks. 4 months later, after repeated questions, emails, phone calls explaining how late this was, we got a hastily-cobbled-together small 'report' that contained nothing that was advertised. Until we threatened legal action, all our emails and phone calls went ignored.
During the time we waited for this report, we were obliged to follow their recommendations (one of their requirements for 'guaranteed funding' is that you follow every recommendation to the letter) - regardless of how odd they seemed at the time. When cash started to get strapped, we were promised that the funding was 'imminent' and that we should stall our creditors and suppliers until this happens. The Barrister chairman even offered to contact these people on our behalf (saying that creditors are more likely to take an 'investment banker' seriously - I wonder when he went from Barrister to Investment Banker, but I digress) and talk to them and stall them for us.
4 months into the process, 3 months AFTER their agreed deadline, and with no contact whatsoever from the 'chairman barrister' except to smooth us over when we told them we were looking at legal action, we followed all their 'recommendations' and ended up almost ruined.
By December, this man refused to pay his 'personal guarantee' of the initial fee tripled and suddenly changed all the goalposts AGAIN, saying that he wouldnt invest in the business until we had a technical partner in place, even though all the contracts and agreements so far clearly said that HE would bring in the partners. He introduced us to the CEO of a company in Australia, and we were told that this man was going to invest in our business as well. But on further discussions with this gent we discovered that he merely knew Mr Barrister through occasional social events, had been asked to talk to us about our requirements as a potential CUSTOMER, and that he was not looking to invest in anything at this stage. So DBA and Mr O'Brien had lied to us again.
Eventually we had had enough and we laid charges against him and the company with the UK and Australian police. We submitted formal complaints to the NSW Law Association, as they had told us he was NOT a barrister, and to the Australian Attorney Generals office, on the advice of the Bar Association and the Law Society. We told Mr O'Brien that we would be contacting everyone connected with his business if he continued to ignore us, which he did, and so we set about making contact with his associates.
We found out that the esteemed and well respected and experienced businessman, Mr Ali Pourtaheri, was the new CEO of Discovery Beach International, so we contacted him. He stepped in and seemed pretty honourable at the time. He arranged for DBA to refund our initial 3500, and being pretty desperate at the time we reluctantly agreed to sign a non-disclosure agreement in return for the refund. By this stage, we had lost everything and probably would have agreed to anything just to end this whole sordid matter. Only Mr Pourtaheri said that we had to agree to sign this agreement before we saw it. Again, the desperation meant that we agreed. We verbally agreed the terms, and then afterwards received this agreement, which stated that we would not talk to the media or anyone outside of our two companies about this matter, and also that Discovery Beach would take a 'fresh look' at our business with a view to restoring the relationship and funding plans.
We signed it and they sent the refund (only, we discovered afterwards that it was illegal as refunds are a statutory right and should be given where service or goods have failed, WITHOUT CONDITIONS). Within two days, Mr O'Brien told us via a text message that our relationship was over and he would have nothing further to do with us. No 'fresh look', no 'moving forward', nothing. So he got us to sign an agrement that he had no intention of adhering to. This man is a lying snake of a con artist.
Luckily for us, the agreement was drawn up in the UK and contained the statutory '7 day cooling off' clause, which enabled us to revoke the agreement in its entirety and proceed with our talks with the police and trading standards office. O'Brien was incensed that we had managed to do this, even though HE breached the agreement, and the threats started.
One of their advisors, a Mr Mike Turner, is the President of the Defence Trade unit in Australia, and before long Mr O'Brien contacted us to say that Mike Turners contacts could have us 'taken out', starting with our children, if we didnt 'shut up'. Nice people, these ...
To date, Discovery Beach Australia have lied to us, stolen from us, threatened us and ruined everything we have worked so hard for. Yes, we made the mistake of believing the lies and falling for the scam, but damn, these guys are good!
We are still working with the police and will soon be launching a civil claim against Discovery Beach for damages. The NSW Bar Association have referred O'Brien's conduct to the NSW Supreme Court for assessment and the Law Society will be taking their own action against him. HOWEVER, they are still contacting small business owners around the world and selling their little 'advance fee scam' operations, and they will continue to be successful in conning others if they are not stopped. Therefore, we will NOT be letting up and will continue to work with all agencies and authorities to make sure they cannot do this to anyone else.
BE WARNED! Discovery Beach Australia, their 'Chairman', CEO and all their agents, do NOT care about breaking promises, lying and destroying others, all for the sake of a few measly bucks. Avoid these people at all costs.