I thought I should report what I consider to be a structured arbitrage trading scam that has been operating in Canberra ACT, Mermaid Beach QLD and now Sydney NSW. Unfortunately, I am a victim of this scam, however fortunately, I only lost what I could afford to lose, but I am sure there would be others less fortunate. This scam involves two companies, Spectre Trading Pty Ltd and Blue Point Trading Pty Ltd. There may be others connected and only time will tell. The situation can be briefly summarised as follows:
Throughout July and August 2007, Spectre Trading Pty Ltd, ABN 35-112-908-620, were offering what they called "sports arbitrage trading licences" for $7600.00. The licence fee was $6,600 and the remaining $1000.00 was your bank balance from which they would commence trading on your behalf.
Their bank account was with the Australian Commonwealth Bank BSB: 064-433 account no. 10809932 in the company's name.
The service offered was that they would compound trade your account up to a limit of $10K over a six month period, then each month you could withdraw the surplus from which they would receive a 5% commission. The theory appeared sound and the company appeared to be a structured operation. I did some preliminary research into them, but there wasn't much info around at the time except for a few skeptics, but nobody had any structured critical information on the company or their activities, and they appeared to be a legitimate business. They were based in Canberra ACT and, apart from their glossy brochure, their secondary promotion was their current ASIC certificate, which they included in their advertising material. They were, in effect, using the ASIC flag to promote and legitimise their business. So I took the risk and gave them a go.
They had a website www.spectretrading.com.au and provided login details so that you could see the progression of your trading balance associated with their so called arbitrage trades, however you were not allowed to withdraw any funds until you had been trading for 6 months. It was set up in a manner similar to internet banking.
Over the 2007 Christmas period, I noticed that trade records ceased on the 16 December 07 (about five and a half months into the 6 month waiting period). The trade records were usually entered weekly, so by the time I became concerned it was already Xmas. I telephone Spectre's customer support however all their calls were diverted to voicemail indicating that they were on holidays until February 4, 2008. However, during their holiday period, they sent out a letter to existing customers dated 24/1/08 offering a limited number of further trading licence opportunities. On February 5, 2008 I received a telephone call from their so called Customer Support officer (Nick Thomas) where I was informed that trade updates had been delayed as they were in the process of doing a security upgrade of their website which would take about 2 further weeks.
I checked the company's current status with ASIC and discovered that on February 5th, they also moved their registered office interstate from Canberra ACT to Mermaid Beach QLD and the following day appointed a liquidator and voluntarily wound up the company. OK, I took the risk and I can accept the loss, and that they were either a scam, or a badly administered business. So I took the liberty of checking further into their activities.
I discovered that on the 06/12/2007, i.e. 3 months prior to the winding up of Spectre Trading Pty Ltd, a new company emerged called Blue Point Trading Pty Ltd ACN 128-760-958, which currently offer the identical service, but from the Sydney location. On studying their website and promotional brochure, it is obvious that they are the same people involved because:
1. Blue Point have set up a similar website to Spectre, offering an identical arbitrage trading service;
2. Both Spectre and Blue Point websites are operated through the same domain, being PlanetDomain.com;
3. Both websites are linked to the same primary and secondary name servers; and
4. Blue Point's promotional brochure is, for the most part, word for word with many identical images and financial examples, to that of the Spectre Trading brochure.
(You can download a copy of both brochures from the respective websites and see for yourself)
I've reported the matter to my bank, Spectre Trading's bank and ASIC in the hope of tracking these nice people down. It should not be too difficult for an experienced fraud investigator to establish an audit trail and it will help if others caught up in the scam open up and tell what they know. These people might be slick scammers, but there will be an audit trail for the appropriate people to seek out.
If you have been caught up and paid by credit card, contact your bank urgently and tell them what's happened. All banks have their own investigation process and you may be able to get your money back, even 6 months on. Your argument is that you paid for a service that was to be delivered to you after a 6 month maturity period, however the company turned out to be a scam. Give the bank your credit card transaction details and hopefully they can sort it out from there.
To my scamming friends: Brian Williams, Nick Thomas, Carl Johnson, David McCrae, Nikki Mills and Dee William of Spectre Trading, and Kenneth Marsh of Blue Point Trading (all real names I'm sure), your arb trading days are surely numbered.