Friday 22 May 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

Dear Consumer’s Voice

I got a letter from a company called Citi Consulting from Melbourne, Australia claiming that I have unclaimed funds lying in Australia somewhere. They said I should send them my ID and proof of address and they would recover the money, deduct a fee and send me a cheque. The money they said is AU$8,000 but they didn’t say exactly how I came about this money. They also refused to tell me where the money is from when I called them on the phone, saying they would only tell me once they have proof of my identity.

Their website is

I lived in Melbourne Australia before, from 1999 to 2002. Can you assist me by finding out if they are a genuine company.

I am very suspicious of this. Citi Consulting is a real company but their approach starts our sceptical alarm bells ringing.

They have a web site that claims they have “dedicated teams of professional researchers” who “have recovered millions of dollars for clients from companies, institutions and governments across the world”. They list a number of ways in which they can reclaim money on your behalf. Pension contributions, insurance payments, unpresented cheques and “overpaid accounts” are all ways in which they claim they can get you some cash.

The good news is that they claim that you pay them nothing until you get paid something. Sounds good so far, don’t you think? However serious questions have already been raised about them in the past. On a number of occasions they have been investigated by regulators in Australia and have ended up being ordered to stop making misleading offers to the public. On each occasion they have contacted people like yourself who might be owed money by a company in Australia. On at least some of the occasions people have complained that what they are offering is worthless.

Did you work when you were in Australia? If you did there is a possibility that you might be owed back you pension contributions but you should certainly NOT pay an intermediary to get them back.

If it's possible that you are owed money in Australia I would start by visiting which is an official Australian government web site that allows you claim back money you are owed FOR FREE. You really shouldn't have to pay anyone to do this for you. If you are owed any money you can get it entirely for free and entirely by yourself. Isn’t that better?

Skeptical self-defence

In these days of internet-based scams, deceptions and hoaxes it’s incredibly important that we should all engage the sceptical parts of our brains. It’s very simple. Don’t believe anything you are told unless there is a very good reason to believe it. Evidence is always a good place to begin.

There are endless scams out there at the moment. This week’s offer is an interesting one. It’s not a traditional scam because they’re not asking for money up front. What they’re doing instead is relying on the fact that you don’t know that the Australian Government is one of the few in the world that are quite “switched on”. The Government themselves will help you reclaim money. In fact, when you get a chance you should visit the web site which was set up by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission which is full of fascinating information on scams and how to avoid them, money tips and educational material. This is what our Government should be doing. Our Consumer Protection Unit could do worse than emulate our Ozzie cousins.

Although Citi Consulting isn’t a traditional scam it’s still in the league below some of them.

That’s where Consumer Watchdog’s appeal to skepticism comes in. We can all do it, it’s nothing to do with education, background, gender or age. All we have to do is not believe what we’re told until there’s a good reason to do so.

In the recent past, members of the Consumer Watchdog team have been invited (yet again) to join the Success University pyramid scheme, to pay to join a silly South African coupon-based web directory, told that we should eat alkaline foods and that we should pay an American astrologer money because she felt “strong vibrations which have been amplified by the energy waves produced by the Reiki Grid which I performed for you”. We’ve also repeatedly learned that we’ve won millions in foreign lotteries, we’ve been offered millions by the supposed children of corrupt West African crooks and we’ve been offered jobs on cruise ships for extraordinary salaries.

Obviously this is all complete nonsense but the danger is that in desperate times people tend to grasp at anything that offers a magical solution to worrying problems. The truth however is that these miracle solutions are always, yes ALWAYS, fraudulent, naive or just plain stupid.

Money is going to be tight for a while, shouldn’t we all do our best to keep hold of what we’ve got and stop it falling into the pockets of frauds like these?


Anonymous said...

WE too have received a letter from CiTiConsulting claiming they have found uclaimed monies that belong to my husband. They have a very old address of ours in New Zealand. The ;etter is signed by a Carolyn Schiffmann. It was sent out Feb 4 2011. Today I thought I'd check out their website where I've found your comments. Does anyone out there know of the NZ equivalent of that organisatin that can find unclaimed monies for free. O

Anonymous said...

Citi Consulting have been fined for misleading and deceptive conduct from Australian Securities Investment Commission - see your accountant or lawyer