After receiving groundless legal threats, on 16 January Google removed a blog post detailing Avestra Asset Management's involvement in the Formosa Auto-Trade scam. Using flyers handed out on the street, this scam involved the sale of "auto-trading" laptops for $30,000 to gullible investors, who were promised extravagant annual returns on forex markets, "no knowledge or effort required". All you had to do was buy a $30,000 auto-trading laptop, sit back, and your return would be $5,000 a month in perpetuity.
Avestra has now gained control of listed funds manager AG Financial (AHA.AX), moving controlled funds to related parties while ASIC twiddles itself, and is loath to have its past exposed. The scamsters hired a company run by self-confessed criminal Michael Featherstone to launch legal threats against this blog.
Michael Featherstone is a former police officer who runs the Gold Coast private investigation and risk advisory firm Phoenix Global. In a 2008 article, "Mick" Featherstone openly admitted to being a criminal, routinely breaking Australian privacy laws and trespassing during his "investigations". But as Mick put it, his victims "rarely take the matter to police".
According to Crikey, Mick Featherstone was involved with the illegal pyramid scheme 1CellNet a decade ago, as well as with a melange of similar "predictive software scams", with names such as Ezyshoppe, Cyber Wall St, Cell Wireless, World Games Inc, Virtual Games Global, Global Stock Game, 1GlobalVillage Club and Aspiritus. In 2008 Featherstone headed a class action lawsuit against consumer advocate Neil Jenman, at the behest of property investment scammers.
These scams go on for decades, in the open, without Australian police or regulators taking any action whatsoever.