Scam of the year
Pie in the sky
Here are some of the scams that have won ASIC's 'Pie in the Sky'
(PITS) award. The award was given to the most outrageous financial
The way to tell the crooks from the real deal is to check if the
company is listed on ASIC Connect's Professional Registers. If they
are on the registers you are better protected if something goes
Past winner - Little Super
The Pie In The Sky award went to the Little Super Fund and its
trustee, Mr Gerard Karl Little. Little illegally obtained the super
of the members of the Little Super Fund and then pocketed a high commission. ASIC's investigation of the
Little Super Fund led to Little's conviction and imprisonment. For
more details, see the ASIC press release 'Sydney man sentenced on early access to
This early release super scam cheated people out of their
hard-earned super, which is not just wrong, it's illegal and the
penalties are severe. Victims of early release of super scams are
convinced by promoters that accessing super early is a
solution to their money problems. The reality is the promoters are
looking for a way to scam people out of their super savings.
Read more about superannuation scams.
Past winner - Boxing Day tsunami
This advance fee fraud email scam asked people to help a Togo
barrister access US$17 million from the estate of a man who, along
with his family, was killed in the 2006 Boxing Day tsunami. The
barrister offered people a share of the wealth if they claimed to
be the deceased's next of kin and paid a fee. People paid their
money but received nothing and the story turned out to be
Past winner - Guiseppe
Mercorella's ponzi scheme
A ponzi scheme operated by Guiseppe
Mercorella offered people investment returns of between 3% and
6% per month. Mercorella's illegal scheme received $216.9
million from investors who ultimately lost $76 million. Many of the
investors were from a local Italian community in South Australia
and became aware of the scheme through family and friends.
This is typical of how many people become involved in a ponzi
scheme. Mercorella is serving a five-year jail term. For more
details, see the ASIC media release 'Sky high returns are just pie in the
sky' and our ponzi schemes webpage.
Past winner - Pegasus investment
This was an illegal investment scheme promoted through wealth
seminars across Australia, and operated by Craig McKim. Pegasus
Leveraged Options Group lured 90 unsuspecting investors and raised
$3.7 million. McKim gambled and spent over $2.1 million of the
funds. The NSW Supreme Court found Pegasus investors were promised
astronomical returns of up to 8% per week. Investors were even
issued a Certificate of Guarantee by a fictitious 'International
Investment and Securities Commission'. McKim was jailed in October
Read more about investment seminars.
Past winner - Carsworthy
'Interest-free' loans were offered to a number of Queenslanders
and 220 people eventually invested a total of $2.4 million in the
Carsworthy scheme. People were told if they purchased a car through
a car buyers club, borrowed a little more from their financier and
invested it offshore, the high returns would repay their car loans.
When the offshore investments failed to deliver promised
returns, investors were left to find their own repayment on
much higher loans than they would have otherwise taken out.
Last updated: 13 Apr 2015