2007 Pie in the Sky Award winner – 1st Place

Looking for some sky-high options for your money? Why not put your money into the Mercorella investment scheme, offering 36 per cent per year? You could even get up to 72 per cent if you sign up your friends and acquaintances.

Alternatively, you could split a cool $35 million with a Dr Paul Mbizala who’s got his hands on money belonging to investors in a US managed fund.

Once you’ve made your packet, you could fly out of Australia on a cheap flight overseas bought from New Flights Limited. Except the company is a fake, is not registered with ASIC, and buys the tickets with stolen credit cards.

These outrageous offers are all fakes that won’t come true. That’s why they’re the top nominations for the ASIC ‘Pie In The Sky’ award for 2007.

‘ASIC announces the Pie In The Sky award once a year for the most outrageous financial scheme that’s too good to be true’, ASIC’s Executive Director of Consumer Protection, Mr Greg Tanzer said.

‘Pie in the sky financial schemes still devastate far too many people. They frequently use sophisticated props and hard sell techniques that lure even financially experienced people’, Mr Tanzer said.

‘The serious purpose behind these awards is to warn the public that get rich quick schemes promise the world, but usually end in tears.’

The ASIC 2007 Pie in the Sky Award goes to the Ponzi scheme operated by Guiseppe Mercorella that offered people between three and six per cent per month. Mr Mercorella’s illegal scheme received $216.9 million from investors who ultimately lost $76 million. Mr Mercorella is now serving a five year jail term on ASIC charges.

Many of the investors were from South Australia, and many from the local Italian community who became aware of the scheme through family and friends. This is typical of how many people become involved in ‘Ponzi’ schemes. Some investors mortgaged their homes to invest with Mr Mercorella.

‘Always deal with licensed Australian financial providers, because that way your rights are better protected if something goes wrong.’

‘You can check ASIC’s consumer website, FIDO for free at www.fido.gov.au to make sure a scheme is operated by a licensed business’, Mr Tanzer said.

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