Aussie pyramid crumbles

Around 1,400 unlucky New Zealanders who who invested $3,000 in an Australian pyramid scheme are unlikely to get their money back, despite an Australian court ruling that the scheme was illegal.

Around 1,400 unlucky New Zealanders who who invested $3,000 in an Australian pyramid scheme are unlikely to get their money back, despite an Australian court ruling that the scheme was illegal.

The Australiam Federal Court ordered that Aus$4 million be returned to people who bought into the scheme up to December 1999. But Commerce Commission Chair John Belgrave warns most will lose heavily.

Promoted widely in the North Island, the scheme promised incomes of up to $230,000 a month using an ATTM card linked to credit card companies and electronic communication networks.

However, the cards could not be used to make purchases, make calls or other transactions.

The International ATTM Card Scheme was sold in New Zealand through World Netsafe Pty Limited.

The Aus$4 million was less than half of the money paid into the scheme, but it was the amount the Court could prove that World Netsafe and Terence Butler, who ran the scheme from Brisbane, received.

The Court ordered World Netsafe and Mr Butler to return the Aus$4 million by 5 January 2001. New Zealanders should contact the company or Mr Butler directly. If they have difficulty with that, then they should contact the Australian Federal Court in Brisbane.

In total about 4,000 New Zealanders and Australians paid into the scheme.

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