Notebook conman barred from NSW

A New Zealand-based conman has felt the stiff arm of the law after the Supreme Court banned him for life from trading in NSW over a fax-based notebook scam.

The NSW Fair Trading Minister, John Watkins, has issued a warning about the known conman, believed to be Michael Helsby-Knight, who is involved in offering $499 refurbished Pentium 166 Laptops to NSW small businesses.

ARN became aware of the scam after a reseller rang to report he had faxed his credit card and postal details to the company known as Maxim Energy Systems, and didn't receive the notebook.

The fax, obtained by ARN, promises the delivery of a Pentium 166 with Windows 95, 32MB RAM, 1.6 GB hard drive and a 30-day warranty.

ARN investigations could not uncover an address for the company and the advertised phone number was out of order, yet the fax number still accepted faxes and voicemail messages.

Fortunately, Watkins reports most consumers will not lose money from the scam as they are eligible for a refund, or "chargeback", from the bank where their credit card was issued.

The NSW Department of Fair Trading reports it has received 19 formal complaints about Maxim Energy Systems.

The Department is also investigating if Helsby-Knight is promoting another scam he tried in New Zealand - an 80 per cent discount on Clarins and Lancome cosmetics. It is also trying to establish how he managed to get credit card facilities, and is consulting with the New Zealand Commerce Commission about options for contempt proceedings for breaches of the Supreme Court ban.

For more information call 13 32 20 or visit www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au

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