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State Police juggle jurisdictions: ASIC AND APRA SNOOZE zzzzzzzzzz

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"We really need a organisation that does protect the normal day-to-day people and that's just not happening"

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 13/09/2012

Reporter: Matt Wordsworth

Delays in pursuing allegations of internet-based fraud by a Queensland man are frustrating police and victims alike, so what are the issues?



LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Hundreds of Australians have fallen victim to an online gambling scam that's fleeced them of millions of dollars.

The con is run by companies that offer punters calculated odds on sporting events, take their money and promise lucrative returns, but instead fleece them of their savings.

To make matters worse, investigations appear to have stalled because the operation crosses state borders and that's causes a jurisdictional headache for police.

Meanwhile, the scammers continue to sting the unsuspecting, as Matt Wordsworth reports.

MATT WORDSWORTH, REPORTER: For a period of about seven years Darcy Dennis was unable to work after suffering a near fatal electric shock in an accident on his family property. He and his wife Kayleen did have a house and some money to invest. In 2008, a friend handed them a brochure from a company called International Sports Online.

DARCY DENNIS: They supposedly had this system that basically returned 28 per cent on your money per month - not year, per month. For me, I thought it was the answer to our problems.

MATT WORDSWORTH: The system involved the company using software to calculate odds on sporting events and then promising to lay bets on behalf of their clients. Darcy Dennis sought a meeting with a company representative.

DARCY DENNIS: I said because I was looking at putting in a large sum of money in that I required a interview with them, and we then arranged to fly down to Sydney and meet with, supposedly, John Dan.

MATT WORDSWORTH: John Dan was that company representative. Darcy Dennis took a copy of his passport as a precaution.

The Dennises then invested more than $120,000, and never saw it again. They have a message for John Dan:

KAYLEEN DENNIS: You rotten bastard, give us our money back. You know? (Getting emotional) Well we don't have a house anymore. We lost our house. So, it's nice to know that he's on the Gold Coast with a couple of houses and we don't have ours anymore.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Mr Hannaman? Matt Wordsworth from ABC's 7.30 program.

HANAMAN: G'day, mate.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Just hoping to ask you a few questions about Proficient First.

JOHN HANNAMAN: Yeah. Know nothing about it.

MATT WORDSWORTH: The ABC caught up with Mr Dan, whose real name is John Hannaman, on the Gold Coast.

Does the name Darcy Dennis mean anything to you?


MATT WORDSWORTH: 'Cause he met you a few years ago. You flew to meet him on the Sunshine Coast and in Sydney.


MATT WORDSWORTH: He took a copy of your passport. Do you remember doing that?


MATT WORDSWORTH: 'Cause that's you, isn't it?

JOHN HANNAMAN: Yep. That's me, mate, yeah.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Yeah. 'Cause you gave him this.

JOHN HANNAMAN: No, I didn't.

MATT WORDSWORTH: 'Cause he demanded that, you know, if he was gonna invest money with you, that he wanted to see proof of your identification.

JOHN HANNAMAN: Mate, someone's taken that from me.

MATT WORDSWORTH: And you blanked out the details because at that time you were using the name John Dan. Do you remember that?

JOHN HANNAMAN: No, mate. No.

MATT WORDSWORTH: There are many others keen to speak with Mr Hannaman. This Sydney man was lured to a website called Tablink SportsBet, also linked to John Hannaman. He wishes to remain anonymous because he's embarrassed that he was fooled.

ANONYMOUS MAN: I invested $5,000 back in January and then I put another $5,000 in March. It was goin' OK, you know, I doubled my money.

MATT WORDSWORTH: He also introduced his friends to the scheme.

ANONYMOUS MAN II: I sat back and watched it for a while, just playing safe, and I seen them put their money in and then pull the money out and I thought, "This looks like a sure thing."

MATT WORDSWORTH: Their account balances on the website looked like they were rising almost every day so the system seemed to be paying off. The first sign of trouble came when they attempted to withdraw their supposed profits.

ANONYMOUS MAN: Well, the first response was there was a tax problem, that his accounts had been - that he'd had a problem with Tax Department and he was struggling with money. And then it was the TAB or the bookmaker that he was using couldn't pay us, and it just kept on going on and on. There was just excuse after excuse.

MATT WORDSWORTH: The group of 20 or so mates lost close to half a million dollars and began to reach out to other victims.

ANONYMOUS MAN II: When I started doing more research, I found out there's a bloke in Victoria that got ripped off for 130 grand. There's a bloke in Coffs Harbour that got ripped off for 300. We even heard pensioners gettin' ripped off. This pensioner, she got ripped off for 130. You know, I just thought, "What type of scum are we dealin' with here?"

MATT WORDSWORTH: Police estimate there are up to 400 victim who have lost $300 to $400 million through a string of linked websites. Some hired private investigator Ken Gamble.

KEN GAMBLE, PRIVATE INVESTIGATOR: Yeah, as we started to investigate the case we found out that these people were well-organised, they were well set up. This was multiple scams going on at the same time. There were multiple companies being used with fake identities being used to set the companies up. They were basically well and truly well set up to scam people and take their money, and of course they were purporting to be trading, which we found there was no trading going on at all; they were just clearing the money outta bank accounts.

MATT WORDSWORTH: The website Tablink Sportsbet is run by a company called Proficient First. Clients had to sign contracts bearing the company's name. Police believe it also runs similar sites such as Sporting Odds and Excellence IV.

But Proficient First is difficult to track down. The regulator ASIC shows its principal place of business as this address in North Sydney. But no-one there had heard of Proficient First.

Its sole director is listed as Richard Paul Montgomery, but his address is this mailbox in Bondi.

No clients that 7.30 has spoken to have met Mr Montgomery face-to-face. Police believe it's a false name.

Does the name Richard Montgomery mean anything to you?

JOHN HANNAMAN: I've heard of Richard Montgomery, but it means nothin' to me in that respect.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Why? What does Richard Montgomery mean to you?

JOHN HANNAMAN: Oh, I've just heard his name around the traps. Yeah, yeah.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Yeah, it's a pretty unusual thing to say given that that name's been tied to you by more than one person.

JOHN HANNAMAN: I realise that, mate. I realise that.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Yep. How long have you been operating these websites?

JOHN HANNAMAN: I haven't been operating these websites.

MATT WORDSWORTH: You don't operate a bunch of internet investment betting scam websites.


MATT WORDSWORTH: There's about a dozen that have been tied to you.

JOHN HANNAMAN: I know, I know.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Mr Hannaman's denials are at odds with the police investigation. A fax number for one of the websites was registered in Mr Hannaman's name. Emails have been traced to his home address and police also have a CCTV image of him withdrawing money at an ATM from an account tied to the company.

And why are you taking money out of ATMs connected to this business.

JOHN HANNAMAN: I haven't taken any money out.

MATT WORDSWORTH: I've got a photo of you at a - from CCTV at the ANZ ATM withdrawing money from a Proficient First Link bank account.


MATT WORDSWORTH: I don't know the actual street address, but I've got a photo of it, of you standing there, in colour, using the ATM

JOHN HANNAMAN: News to me, that one.

MATT WORDSWORTH: How do you explain that?

JOHN HANNAMAN: I don't - can't explain it.

MATT WORDSWORTH: 7.30 has learned that NSW Police were ready to execute search warrants on Mr Hannaman's home and business on the Gold Coast late last year, but were told it was a matter for Queensland Police. That's when the investigation stalled.

KEN GAMBLE: Dozens of more people have been scammed. Now this is a fellow who was identified last July, more than a year ago, that could have been stopped in his tracks, either by the police or by other authorities.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Publicly NSW police will not comment. Privately they are frustrated at the delay. So too are the victims.

ANONYMOUS MAN II: All I do know is that if Queensland Police don't act soon, well, you know, we might have to take the law into our own hands.

MATT WORDSWORTH: John Hannaman doesn't deny his involvement with Proficient First.

So, if it's not you, then who are you saying has ripped off all this money?


MATT WORDSWORTH: 'Cause if it's not you, then you must know who it is.

JOHN HANNAMAN: Whom I market for?

MATT WORDSWORTH: Yeah. Who has taking all the money then if it wasn't you?

JOHN HANNAMAN: Mate, I'll talk to you one day without the camera because it's not worth my life.

MATT WORDSWORTH: The IP addresses for a lot of the emails are coming back to your address

JOHN HANNAMAN: What, my address over here?

MATT WORDSWORTH: Yeah, your home.


MATT WORDSWORTH: I mean, come on, Mr Hannaman, do you expect me to believe that you're not involved in this?

JOHN HANNAMAN: Mate, I might be involved somewhere, but I haven't got a cracker out of it. Truly, we get a little bit here and a little bit there for the marketing - that's it. I'm being so upfront with ya. Mate, come to my house now and see if you can find anything.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Certainly NSW Police were interested in doing that.

JOHN HANNAMAN: Well, mate, they can come and do it. I'm telling ya mate, I've been stitched up big time.

MATT WORDSWORTH: And you can't point us in any direction other than the information that we've got from a number of reliable sources that are saying that you're the person at the top of this operation and you've got a few people working for you?

JOHN HANNAMAN: Mate, I'll just have to take the rap because I can't give any info' out. Ya know, I do marketing for these people. That's as far as I go.

MATT WORDSWORTH: So you're willing to take the rap for this, take responsibility for all of it?

JOHN HANNAMAN: Well, mate, I can't go round giving these people up.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Queensland Police have confirmed they were sent the file from their NSW counterparts months ago, but would not comment any further.

Three years ago, the NSW Government recognised the escalating problem of online scams and called for a joint state and federal internet fraud hotline, but nothing has happened.

KEN GAMBLE: But one would ask the question, "Well what are the other authorities doing? What is the ACCC doing? What is ASIC doing? What is the Department of Fair Trade doing?" What are all these agencies doing when these people like this particular individual can operate on the Gold Coast without being stopped for more than a year, even though government authorities knew exactly who he was. So it raises a question somewhere something is broken in our system.

DARCY DENNIS: We really need a organisation that does protect the normal day-to-day people and that's just not happening.

MATT WORDSWORTH: Did you know that these people weren't getting their money?

JOHN HANNAMAN: No, mate, no.

MATT WORDSWORTH: So it's news to you that all of these people were getting ripped off?

JOHN HANNAMAN: Mate - Matt, as I said, can we have a chat?

MATT WORDSWORTH: And if you're doing marketing, why are you fronting up to talk to people in person? Why are you taking money out of the bank accounts? You seem to be doing a lot more than just marketing.

JOHN HANNAMAN: Well, marketing's my main thing.

LEIGH SALES: I'd love to see how that ends up. Matt Wordsworth reporting.

This story originally appeared in Darren Pauli's article for SC Magazine.

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  • doyla66
    doyla66 Friday, 14 September 2012

    To Anonomous. Go around to his house, smash the place up, set fire to his house and his car, then you will probably find that you will get your money back. Time to put a stop to everybody ripping decent people off. If the police wont do their job then what other action do we people have?

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