For the past two decades, Ms Brailey has been a tireless campaigner, championing the cause of older and low income Australians who have fallen victims to banking and finance scams. Residing in a quiet rural town in Western Australia, people have made contact via email and letters from all over Australia and New Zealand.
As a dedicated consumer advocate, Ms Brailey gathered a team of helpers together in order to assist many victims of white collar crime, particularly in the banking, finance and mortgage broking sector. She empowered consumers to fight back and recover lost funds, when the odds of success against powerful institutions, unsympathetic regulators and rogue white collar criminals appeared insurmountable.
Initially, in 1993, Ms Brailey commenced a series of investigations into property scams. However, she realized a long held dream of a formal education, and commenced studies at the age of 45. During this journey, she assisted a number of consumers to recover losses totaling $1 million. During this time she continued her studies achieving:-
1996 – 1998 Advanced Diploma of Accountancy from TAFE.
1997 – 2002 Attended Murdoch University and completed three degrees:
• Bachelor of Arts – Criminology.
"Over 11 Inquiries have been held in several
Parliaments throughout Australia due to
Ms Brailey’s continued efforts"
In November 2000, the very successful ABC program 'Australian Story' dedicated an episode to the life of Denise Brailey. Read the ABC program transcript
In 1997 Ms Brailey commenced organizational support for disadvantaged consumers by forming the Real Estate Consumer Association (Inc) and actively assisted in the recovery of funds lost by using RECA (Inc) as her prime vehicle. She lobbied politicians for legislative change and an important public change in attitude towards consumers who had been defrauded. Her services have mainly been delivered on a voluntary basis.
In 1998 she became aware of the existence of a scam which affected over 3000 mainly retirees whose average losses were around $100,000. Missing funds escalated to over $120 million, in what became known as the “Finance Brokers Scandal” in Western Australia. Ms Brailey took it upon herself to seek funding for action for recompense.
At the time, well known Perth lawyer, Doug Solomon, assisted Denise with necessary interpretations of specific legal issues relating to these matters.
Due to the unresponsiveness of the government agencies of the day, Ms Brailey lobbied the State Government for justice for those who had been aggrieved by the finance brokers and their related accountants, valuers and solicitors.
Her actions were responsible for six State inquiries including a Royal Commission. Ms Brailey obtained the support of IMF (Australia) Ltd in funding a case against the Finance Brokers Supervisory Board which eventually proved successful and resulted in nearly $90 million in compensation and recovery dollars being paid to the affected investors by the WA State Government in 2007.
In the interim, during 2000, she volunteered to travel to Tasmania and Queensland to lobby for consumers who had lost money in Solicitor Mortgage Scams in circumstances similar to the WA Finance Brokers Scandal and her efforts were rewarded by the setting up of a Senate Inquiry into the Tasmanian Law Society. Millions of dollars were recovered for those people who had asked for assistance via emails.
During 2003, Ms Brailey also made trips to the Eastern States, visiting hundreds of victims of what later became known as Loan Application Fraud, which she claimed had been set up by Australian bankers who favored “the Broker Model.” This activity involved Low Doc Loans as a supposedly “legitimate” product.
Most of the victims of this scam were now in debt to the tune of $400,000 per person. The instance of these loans resulting in billions of dollars of imprudent lending practices, produced a plethora of complaints against the banks.
In addition, and on numerous occasions, Ms Brailey met or kept contact with ASIC officials. She warned authorities of a number of suspicious Managed Investment Schemes which appeared to be a front for a new activity involving Promissory Notes. Later from the same pool of operators, hybrid financial products emerged to catch unwary and uninformed Mums and Dads.
Ms Brailey focused upon the escalation in agri tax schemes, promoted to those who had no idea of the risks involved. Her concerns were also focused upon property MIS companies using Information Memorandums instead of compulsory prospectuses.
Once again the faulty MIS products were being sold through Financial Planners and Brokers.
Alarmed at the fact that the regulators had gathered enough intelligence to warn Mums and yet were failing to release details, Ms Brailey ran parallel stories on her website to alert consumers as to specific dangers. She also named and shamed those whom ASIC had taken no action against.
During 2003 she also noticed an increase in suspect “creating wealth seminars” and went after the spruikers, including the legendary Henry Kaye.
Once again Ms Brailey criticized ASIC by having a significant number of questions raised on her behalf in the Estimates Hearings at the Australian Federal Parliament.
In 2004 and with the assistance of Neil Jenman she organised buses to Canberra and taught consumers to stand up for their own rights. She organised simultaneous rallies outside the offices of the regulators in every capital city and publicly suggested that “there was little or no consumer protection in Australia with regard to financial products and services.”
People began to listen. During the next few years, Federal and State legislation was changed for the better as a result of her dedication and passion into consumerism.
Over 11 Inquiries have been held in several Parliaments throughout Australia due to Ms Brailey’s continued efforts, including:-
Five State based inquiries:
• Les Smith Inquiry into Real Estate Agents Board WA 1997
And in addition there have been the following Federal Inquiries:-
• Senate Inquiry into Tasmanian Law Society Tas 2000.
As the consequence of these initiatives and on the outcomes of the Inquiries, Denise has achieved a significant improvement in the supervision by Government in matters of Consumer Protection with consumer credit now the subject of Federal legislation, overcoming the previous inconsistency of having different consumer protection laws in every State.
Currently there are at least five ongoing investigations being carried out by the WA Police Major Fraud Squad, resulting in charges being laid against those accused.
Nominated for several awards during the decade, she received the WA Consumer Protection Rona Oakley Award for individual achievement in 2010.
In October 2008 Denise volunteered her services as a guide and mentor for a group of investors who had been caught up in a further outbreak of Mortgage Broking scams. Ms Brailey’s investigations have led specifically to the discovery of crucial evidence implicating Australian Banks in the previously flagged (2003) Loan Application Fraud.
During the past two years, she has investigated a number of complaints against the banking fraternity in relation to Low Doc Loan Fraud. This latest round of consumers at risk are coming from every states in Australia and New Zealand.
Ms Brailey continues to lobby for regulatory reforms in the area of enforcement of law. Some of the legislative provisions and safeguards which could have prevented these losses have been available to the regulators for the past two decades.
In 2001 Ms Brailey estimated that losses from all of these reported activities had risen to $1.5 billion. In 2005 she upgraded her findings to be around $5 Billion. In 2012, she believes that $50 Billion is a conservative estimate effecting mostly pensioners and low income families.
In 1998, Ms Brailey reported that “no-one paid much attention to the original key indicators of mass fraud and the devastation to the financial well-being of ordinary Mums and Dads.”
In 2012, Ms Brailey is determined to bring Consumer Protection issues to the forefront of our thinking. As several reporters have commented: “Perhaps we should all be listening.”
The Banking and Finance Consumers Support Association (inc) has been created (circa 2012) by a dedicated team of people who believe in what Ms Brailey has achieved to date.BFCSA (Inc) is the catalyst of united consumer collectivism and in response to staggering financial losses amid current cries for assistance.