Questions over Laybet Professionals after customers allege money lost

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Digital Life

Digital Life News

Date

November 18, 2013

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Chris Johnston

Senior Writer for The Age

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Amateur scambuster James Thomson, a Melbourne sailmaker by trade, knew he was onto something when his mobile phone rang late last week and the male caller with a hidden number said: “Shut your website down. We know your home address. If you don’t shut it down we’ll send three blokes over.”

Thomson does not know who the caller was, but his website aussiescamalert.com had been running extensive rip-off warnings about a company called Laybet Professionals who sell the promise of riches through horseracing gambling software but had, Thomson found, a rash of Victorian victims alleging they lost up to $50,000 each from the Gold Coast company with no apparent prospect of getting it back.

Victims also came from NSW and South Australia, but Victoria had been targeted through cold calls, texts and “Make Money From Home” advertisements in the Herald Sun.

“They are certainly very active,” says Thomson.

Internet gambling exchange Betfair monitors suspicious activity and can reverse transactions and freeze accounts. A spokesman said such scams where third parties access individual accounts were an industry-wide problem.

“While we can’t prevent customers allowing third-party access to their betting accounts or making unwise investment decisions, Betfair does everything in its power to identify and stop fraudulent activity,” he said.

Geelong mechanic “Robert” said he was “one of the lucky ones” when the $5500 he sent to Laybet Professionals for gambling software he didn’t receive was returned to his bank account.

Consumer Affairs Victoria received 103 complaints about sports gambling software scams in the past financial year. Within that category “lay betting” is betting on horses not to win.

Laybet Professionals is linked to other companies called Laytrade Professionals, Accord Professional Group and Voss Capital Management, with a business address on the Gold Coast in the office of “Accountants for Free Enterprise”.

Company documents show company director Raymond Gilding lists a home address in Kilmore, Victoria. However the address given is a rented bungalow on a dirt road, among horse stables. The tenant, Glenn Craven, did not know of a Mr Gilding. Laybet Professionals did not return calls. Retired jockey Mick Dittman endorses the company on their website. He said he was aware of complaints but never had a problem with the company’s products.

A similar Queensland-based scam last spring netted up to $4 million, according to NSW police. In 2011 Fairfax Media revealed similar companies based in Melbourne had siphoned money into companies in Vanuatu. Queensland police said there was “nothing to suggest” a new spate of scams.

Ricky Burgess, a 48-year-old truck driver from Cranbourne, has lost $50,000 after answering a Herald Sun advertisement. He was told by a salesman on the phone the software would earn 10 to 15 per cent each day and that he could earn a further 20 per cent on managed resources.

“Gold and silver and oil. And he said the oil was doing really well because of the war and what was happening in America and everything,” he said.

“He led me to believe they used software for that as well. I’ve never been conned in my life but this bloke got me a bloody beauty. It’s not something to be proud of. That’s why people don’t come forward.”

Victims in Ballarat, Shepparton, Adelaide and Bowral have lost an average of $25,000 each. Contracts sent to them promise a 10-day cooling-off period but a Shepparton man who asked not be named said he tried to cancel his purchase and get his $25,000 back on day eight and has not heard from the company since.

A Ballarat victim said he was being persuaded to invest “100 large, the salesman’s words” when he cut his losses.

Some victims received laptops loaded with the software but all said it did not work. Others never received it. Before buying it they all put “trial” money into Betfair accounts and were able to proxy into salespeoples’ computers to see what they were told was the account making money in real time.

Scambuster James Thomson removed pages on his website last week when he was threatened on the telephone because he decided to be cautious.

“Victims I know about are just the tip of the iceberg,” he says. “The scammers are relentless and ruthless.”


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Article source: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/questions-over-laybet-professionals-after-customers-allege-money-lost-20131118-2xq8z.html

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