The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has acted quickly to obtain orders restraining three individuals from promoting an alleged pyramid selling scheme called TVI Express.
On Friday 14 May 2010, in the Federal Court, Sydney, the ACCC obtained ex-parte injunctions restraining Laulhati Jutsen (also known as Teddi Jutsen), Tina Aroha Brownlee and David Graeme Scanlon from promoting the alleged pyramid selling scheme.
Pyramid selling schemes are deliberate scams designed to benefit the originators while taking advantage of later recruits. They operate on the basis that members receive commissions for recruiting new members. However, they inevitably collapse leaving most participants out of pocket.
The TVI Express scheme is promoted by the respondents through various websites including the site www.tviteamoz.com and the TVI Express Oz group on the site www.facebook.com. People who wish to participate in the scheme are required to pay a membership fee of $330. Once an individual has paid the $330, they receive a 'travel voucher' and the opportunity to receive commission payments for recruiting other people into the scheme.
The ACCC understands that Ms Jutsen, Ms Brownlee and Mr Scanlon had planned to hold presentations across Australia and New Zealand this week to promote the scheme. The orders obtained by the ACCC will prevent these presentations from going ahead. If the individuals ignore these orders, they risk being in contempt of court.
The court orders also restrain the individuals from knowingly accepting payments from, or making payments to other participants in the scheme. The individuals are also required to place notices on various websites alerting members of the public to the ACCC's court action.
The ACCC will now prepare the matter for final hearing. The ACCC will be seeking orders declaring that the individuals engaged in contraventions of the Trade Practices Act 1974 and injunctions restraining them from engaging in similar conduct in the future. The ACCC will also be seeking civil pecuniary penalties against the individuals.