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How Sydney’s phony adviser pulled off her scam

New documents prepared on behalf of phony adviser Melissa Caddick’s alleged victims detail how the Sydney businesswoman was able to fly under the radar of wealthy investors, auditors and regulators to perpetrate an alleged fraud of over $20 million.

Two position papers prepared as part of legal proceedings against Ms Caddick on behalf of a group of 15 investors reveal that at least $20.84 million in funds, and likely “substantially more”, is tied up in the alleged fraud perpetrated by Ms Caddick, who had cultivated long-standing relationships of trust with her investors in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.

“In almost all cases, the relationship with Melissa Caddick or her family member spanned a period of two or more decades,” the paper prepared by Sydney firm Bridges Lawyers states.

“In a few cases the trusted persons had even been former work colleagues of Melissa Caddick over a period also spanning many decades. 

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“They had personally witnessed Melissa Caddick’s professional success as a financial planner as long ago as the early 2000s, including Melissa Caddick’s role in being voted as part of ‘Australia's best planning practice’.

It's understood Ms Caddick worked for Wise Financial Services during the early 2000s, with the business winning an ifa award for best practice in 2003 when the publication was under previous ownership.

The paper references ASIC evidence that Ms Caddick had 42 “known or potential” investors over just an 18-month period from January 2018 to June 2020. Just under $675,000 remains in cash accounts held by Ms Caddick and her now collapsed company Maliver, according to affidavits made as part of the proceedings.

The holder of the AFSL used by Ms Caddick - understood to be Sydney practice Bloom Advisory Group - had a previous working association with her, and Ms Caddick had even suggested there was a referral arrangement in place between the two, the investor group claimed.

“While the AFSL holder denies giving permission for Melissa Caddick or Maliver Pty Ltd to use their AFSL, the investors understand that they maintained a current working association through the referral of clients needing insurance broking services,” the documents state.

Ms Caddick also provided investors with elaborately forged physical and digital documentation of their implied shareholdings within CBA’s CommSec platform, listing popular stocks such as Afterpay and JB Hi-Fi among the holdings.

These were backed up by detailed monthly reports, buy and sell contract notes, dividend statements, share statements and share certificates.

Investors had also lodged tax returns detailing these holdings “for many years”, and several had SMSFs that were independently audited “in some cases over a five-year period” without any red flags being raised, the paper states.

The news comes as liquidators are due to provide a report to the Federal Court around the extent of Ms Caddick’s debts to investors by 15 February.

The group of investors represented by Bridges are calling for her two eastern suburbs properties, worth an estimated $4.8 million after debts, to be sold in order to maximise the funds returned to Ms Caddick’s former clients.

Ms Caddick has not been seen since leaving her home in early November 2020, but police believe she is still in Australia.

How Sydney’s phony adviser pulled off her scam
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