The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has again acted swiftly to protect consumers this week.
"The ACCC has instituted proceedings in the Federal Court, Brisbane, alleging that World Netsafe Pty Ltd misled consumers in relation to the attributes of the World Netsafe ATTM Card. It also alleged that the operation of this ATTM Card could amount to an illegal pyramid selling scheme", ACCC Chairman, Professor Allan Fels, said today.
The ATTM Card has been extensively promoted on the Internet and at public meetings in capital cities of Australia. The ACCC alleges World Netsafe has claimed that the ATTM card is affiliated with companies including VISA, Chase Bank of Texas, Price Waterhouse, Mastercard and, Maestro and Cirrus. World Netsafe has claimed that the card operates as a "combination" telephone card, ATM card, point of sale card and one which attracts a loyalty rewards program.
"The ACCC alleges consumers have been told that the ATTM Card allowed members to create a worldwide business that could generate lifelong, residual income, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from five different streams of income, without the member leaving his or her home", Professor Fels said.
"Since the Scheme began, thousands of consumers have invested $2389.00. However, no members have yet received their ATTM cards.
In response to an application today by the ACCC to restrain World Netsafe from making the alleged representations about the ATTM Card, World Netsafe and it's sole director, Mr Terence Butler, have undertaken to the Court that they will not represent various aspects of the operation or attributes of the Card. For example, the company and Mr Butler have undertaken not to make representations:
- That an ATTM Card is of any assistance in making telephone calls;
- That any record of teleminutes (or similar concept) is kept in relation to the ATTM Card;
- That any record of any currency is kept in relation to the ATTM Card;
- That any arrangement has been made with any bank or other financial institution in relation to any ATTM Card;
- That a deposit can be made to the credit of any ATTM Card; That an ATTM Card is of any assistance in making purchases by way of utilising an electronic communication network;
- That an ATTM Card possesses any debit card facilities;
- That an ATTM Card is of any assistance in obtaining cash from an automatic teller machine;
- That an ATTM Card has any association with Visa, Mastercard, Maestro or Cirrus cards or debit platforms, or with any other network utilising electronic communication in relation to baking or commerce;
- That it is possible for a member of the Scheme to earn money from their membership;
- That the Scheme had been cleared or approved by any institution or regulatory authority.
The Federal Court has made orders freezing assets and bank accounts of World Netsafe and Mr Terence Butler until the matter can be further determined. Further, the respondents have undertaken to the court that they will maintain a record of each application for membership and each application for an ATTM Card and that they will bank any moneys received in respect of such applications into the trust account of the company's solicitors. These monies are not to be drawn upon except with the Commission's consent or order of the court.
The matter returns to the Federal Court for further hearing on Tuesday 25 January 2000.
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