Debt Wipeout advertises on billboards, shop-a-dockets, websites, social media and in person, claiming it can ‘extinguish’ a consumer’s debt for an up-front payment of 15 to 25 per cent of the outstanding balance. ASIC alleges that Debt Wipeout represents that, upon receipt of this up-front payment, the creditor will receive funds to settle the consumer’s debt, but consumers have made up-front payments and their debts have not been extinguished.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the financial system and the potential for harm that this has created, ASIC has implemented a set of pandemic-related enforcement priorities that guide our response to misconduct. This misconduct includes opportunistic conduct seeking to exploit the current environment, such as predatory lending practices, scams, unlicensed conduct and misleading and deceptive advertising.
On 27 April 2021, the Federal Court made orders by consent restraining Kewa Ruwhiu, Mathew Ruwhiu and Debts Knockout from carrying on, promoting or providing referrals to any business associated with Mr David Murphy or Mr Anastasios Mavroulis where that business is involved in specified activities outlined in the orders, and otherwise dismissed the proceedings against them.
These orders relate to any business using the name "Debts Knockout", "Debt Wipeout" or any other name that involves:
individuals or businesses with a loan or debt providing, or being encouraged to provide, an amount (or other consideration) to any person (or their servants, agents or employees); and
that person purports to make a non-cash payment to discharge the loan or debt (wholly or in part).
The alleged contraventions of the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) and ASIC Act 2001 (Cth) included:
Carrying on a financial services business without holding an Australian financial services licence (AFSL);
Engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct while carrying on a financial services business;
Making false or misleading representations while carrying on a financial services business;
Engaging in unconscionable conduct while carrying on a financial services business; and
Engaging in conduct that was liable to mislead the public as to the nature while carrying on a financial services business.ASIC previously obtained interim orders and injunctions from the Federal Court against Mr Murphy, Mr Mavroulis, Mrs Ruwhiu, Mr Ruwhiu and Debts Knockout in relation to their involvement in Debt Wipeout, a business operated by Mr Murphy and whose name is owned by Mr Mavroulis (20-243MR).
This concludes the case against Mr and Mrs Ruwhiu and Debts Knockout.
The proceeding against Mr Murphy and Mr Mavroulis is scheduled to return before the Federal Court for a case management hearing on 15 June 2021.