Australian authorities nail two Ponzi schemes, shuts their sites down and freezes funds

Matthew Beresford even went to the extent of advertising his ‘scheme’ on the radio across Melbourne.

On 13 October 2020, on application by ASIC, the Federal Court made orders restraining Matthew Alan Beresford from carrying on a financial services business and suspending the websites of Maxwell Financial Services and Asset Capital Holdings.

The Federal Court also made orders to freeze all bank accounts associated with Maxwell Financial Services and Asset Capital Holdings and has restrained Mr Beresford from travelling outside of Australia.

ASIC alleges, in late 2019, Mr Beresford established Maxwell Financial Services which offered financial services, including the opportunity to invest in financial products with high annual returns. He offered these products and services through a website, a Facebook page and advertised on Melbourne radio station, 3AW.

The Maxwell Financial Services website stated that its representatives held an Australian financial services licence (AFSL) and that the business was associated with ASIC and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).  ASIC alleges that these representations are false and that the business has been operating without the necessary AFSL. ASIC also alleges that a significant amount of money raised from retail investors has been dissipated.

ASIC further alleges that another business, and associated website, called Asset Capital Holdings, was established by Mr Beresford in September 2020 and offered financial services without holding the necessary AFSL.

On 20 October 2020, the Federal Court extended the orders restraining Mr Beresford from carrying on a financial services business and freezing relevant bank accounts and requested that the webhost of the Maxwell Financial Services website make it inaccessible to the public. The matter is listed for a further hearing in the Federal Court on 8 February 2021.

Mr Beresford has been arrested and charged.

ASIC has stated that if anyone believes they have lost money associated with this matter, they should report misconduct to ASIC via ASIC’s website.

This action is not related to the following companies:

  • Maxwell Financial Services Pty Ltd ACN 109 836 400, which holds an Australian credit licence; or
  • Asset Capital Holdings Pty Ltd ACN 104 792 234.

According to the court order, no funds are allowed to be transferred to or from any bank accounts, and all of those involved with the defendant and the defendant himself are prevented until February 5, 2021 from using any passport as ID to open bank accounts, and from obtaining replacement passports.

Australia’s authorities have been extremely steadfast when it comes to dealing with Ponzi schemes via the courts. A notable example was rather cheesily named Aussie Rob and his outlandish Lifestyle Trader scheme, which was a well known Ponzi scheme in the FX business, promising high returns and selling useless software to unsuspecting retail novice traders.

ASIC put an end to that with severe consequences for its perpetrator, however since then, ASIC has been very much on the warpath when it comes to flagrant attempts to fleece unsuspecting traders and investors.

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