08 May 2016

Scams

Consumer Affairs Victoria has announced plans to litigate against scammer Belle Gibson and has secured an enforceable undertaking  by Gibson's publisher.
Consumer Affairs Victoria is preparing to take legal action against Inkerman Road Nominees Pty Ltd (in liquidation) ACN 164 850 748 (formerly known as Belle Gibson Pty Ltd) and its sole director, Ms Annabelle Gibson, following an in-depth investigation into alleged contraventions of the Australian Consumer Law and Australian Consumer Law (Victoria).
The alleged contraventions relate to false claims by Ms Gibson and her company concerning her diagnosis with terminal brain cancer, her rejection of conventional cancer treatments in favour of natural remedies, and the donation of proceeds to various charities.
Consumer Affairs Victoria Director Simon Cohen has applied for leave to commence proceedings against Inkerman Road Nominees Pty Ltd (in liquidation) in the Federal Court of Australia. Leave is required because the company is in liquidation.
If leave is granted, Mr Cohen intends to commence proceedings against Inkerman Road Nominees and Ms Gibson.
Mr Cohen added he was pleased that Penguin Australia Pty Ltd, publishers of The Whole Pantry book, had willingly co-operated with a concurrent investigation that examined whether the company had also contravened the ACL (Vic).
Mr Cohen said Penguin had agreed to an enforceable undertaking acknowledging that it had not required Ms Gibson to substantiate her claims prior to the book’s publication.
Included in the terms of the enforceable undertaking is that Penguin will make a $30,000 donation to the Victorian Consumer Law Fund.
Penguin must also enhance its compliance, education and training program with a specific focus on ensuring all claims about medical conditions are substantiated, and that statements about natural therapies are accompanied by a prominent warning notice.
“This is an important step in ensuring that consumers receive only verified information and are not deceived, particularly where serious matters of health and medical treatment are concerned,” Mr Cohen said.
Meanwhile in New Zealand the Commerce Commission has reached an interim agreement with TM Publisher, an overseas company that sent invoices for unsolicited services to New Zealand trade mark holders.
 Under the interim court enforceable undertakings TM Publisher has agreed that anyone who paid the invoice from 6 April 2016 will be refunded directly by ANZ bank. 
The Commission is still in negotiations with TM Publisher about payments it received before 6 April 2016. ...   
TM Publisher’s bank account was frozen in March 2016. It contained over $200,000 in payments from New Zealand businesses. 
The invoice relates to an overseas, web-based trade mark publication service. It is not connected to the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand (IPONZ). The invoice does not make clear that the recipient does not have to pay for the services.