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Alleged £17m scam firm in Australia ‘has links to Northern Ireland company’

Alleged £17m scam firm in Australia ‘has links to Northern Ireland company’

An Australian company, which is accused of operating an alleged scam, has been found to have close ties with a business based in Co Down.

Viewble Media Pty Ltd is facing accusations of leaving Australian businesses almost AUS $31m (£16.9m) in debt.

A BBC News NI investigation has discovered that Viewble Media was operating across the UK from Groomsport, after being contacted by businesses which claimed to have lost money through an advertising deal.

As part of the deal, several shop owners in Northern Ireland bought a screen from Viewble Media UK at a cost of £299 a month for three years, paying a total sum of almost £11,000.

A second associated company, the Shoppers Network UK Ltd, then rents the screen for advertising, paying the shop owner £299 a month for three years.

The retailers would get their own advert shown on the screen and in neighbouring businesses but shop owners found that the payments from the second company stopped coming.

They had signed finance deals, which meant they would owe the £11,000 while the repayments from the advertising were not guaranteed.

Australia’s business ombudsman has now launched an investigation after receiving more than 1,000 complaints about Viewble Media Pty Ltd and The Shoppers Network.

The BBC reports that Viewble Media UK is jointly owned by Ricci Aiken from Northern Ireland, who has 25% of the shares, with an Australian firm owning the remaining 75%.