ASIC wrongly gives local assembler a bad name

ASIC wrongly gives local assembler a bad name

Sydney assembler MBI Computers claims its business has been damaged to the tune of "about $100,000" by a fake April Fool's Day scam conducted by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

To highlight investment traps on the Internet, ASIC conducted a scam earlier this year which attracted $4 million from unsuspecting investors taken in by the chance to make money with a fictional company called Swiss MBI (Millennium Bug Insurance).

Amounts of up to $50,000 were obtained from 233 separate investors before the scam was revealed.

When speaking to the media, and even in its own press releases, the non-existent company was only referred to by ASIC as MBI.

According to Karl Brunning, director of sales and marketing with MBI Computers in the Sydney suburb of Granville, this has been very damaging to the good name of the company and the brand of PCs it markets.

"I am more than a little annoyed about this," said Brunning. "The governing body that is supposed to look after the protection of business names has let us down badly.

"The name MBI was repeatedly being used in association with words such as 'scam' and 'rip-off' and that is not acceptable," he said.

While Brunning accepts that the $100,000 figure he placed on damages caused is "very hard to quantify", he is convinced it is a conservative estimate.

Though legal advice suggests he is in a good position to sue, Brunning said MBI has only requested that ASIC make a formal public apology and place newspaper display advertisements in its two major markets. ASIC has agreed to do so.

"Any inference that a brand is less than legitimate is cause for concern because it can immediately trigger a negative buying emotion that makes people look at other brands," he said.

"Negative publicity generated by a government agency about MBI has threatened the integrity of our business name. You can't put a price on that but it has cost us.

"We are a $10 million a year wholesale company and we shipped over 6000 computers during the last financial year to retail outlets, mainly in rural NSW and Queensland.

"This story was circulated very broadly and we have had a lot of feedback from our customers that they have been taking questions from their customers about the MBI brand," he added.

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