After 35 years of stockbroking for some of the biggest houses and investors in Australia and the UK, the Secret Broker is regaling Stockhead readers with his colourful war stories — from the trading floor to the dealer’s desk.

We talk about how fools and their money are easily separated but sometimes other emotions are in play and take over from the logical bit of the brain.

Even if there are warning signs, they get ignored and excused for.

There is no one better to prey on, than a vulnerable women, on the rebound from a recent divorce settlement or widowed.

In the US alone, online dating scams separate an estimated $US200m ($278.4m) a year from the lovers to the scammers, and the FBI says this is the highest loss of all consumer frauds in the US today.

It says that because there is no policing of dating sites, scammers are free to Casanova themselves around the place, completely unchecked.

They can be on sites like Bumble, Stumble, Tumble, Fumble, Humble or even Gullible, all at the same time with different profiles, waiting for a free spirited but emotionally frail soul needing some lovin’ to come along and take their bait — hook, line and sinker.

Now, before you think that TSB has gone off the rails and skipped his medication again, what I’m trying to paint is a picture of similarity, having recently read an article on the subject.

Having read it, it dawned on me how these type of dating site scammers can be found in suits, pulling the emotional levers and seducing not lovers but ASX investors.

Even though we have ASIC and the ASX parading around in uniforms and occasionally slapping their truncheons on the table and rattling the bars, nothing ever seems to get through to the people who blatantly scam to investors faces.

One of the best recent (and classic) examples, is ASX listed company Big Un Ltd.

No serious lover would ever put ‘Big Un’ into their dating profile and this should have rung the first warning bell. Being listed on an exchange would mean that all the executives must have passed a few background checks before listing, right?


Richard Evertz was the co-founder (along with his son) and the CEO of Big Un when it floated in 2014 (at which point he owned 17 per cent).

In 1993, he had been convicted for impersonating a police officer and demanding a bribe of $1,000 from men loitering around his local toilet block.

For this he copped an eight-month sentence, with seven months suspended if he behaved himself. The judge at his trial was very scathing about his character.

Just like a scammers eHarmony profile, his official IPO bio didn’t have the words convicted and blackmail in it (though he did manage to get the term ‘Big Un’ into it).

Funny that.

The company was being run by a person who had been formally charged and sentenced for blackmail. When Big Un reached its high in November 2017, it was valued at $840m.

Even though all these facts later became public, investors were too love struck to listen to anyone who used chat room forums to point out these ugly facts about their lover, (even though they had probably never met in person yet).

But it gets better.

Prior to the float and actually disclosed in the prospectus, was the fact that at some point in his corporate life, he had changed his name to Richard Evans before changing it back to his convicted name.

While he had his new identity, he had set up a company called, wait for it, Imagine Un which duly collapsed, losing investors millions and triggered action by the ACCC alleging his misleading conduct at the company.

So, you can see a pattern here. Different names, forgetting to mention previous love children and always having an answer when pulled up on the subject.

Seducing them with fantasy facts and figures, these lovers are good.

So good that, at its peak, his holding was worth around $US100m.

He was a one-man band who had achieved 50 per cent of what 25,000 American scammers achieve in a year and Big Un shares became the best ASX performing shares in 2017 (rising 20 times in value).

False accounting, with round robin payments that scammed small business owners, finally led to the company’s shares being suspended and as it turns out, leaving our lover’s ‘Big Un’ boast to become shrivelled and exposed, as ASIC and the ASX finally found the bedroom light switch and lifted the turntable arm from the Barry White LP.

Now, I’m going to leave you with the link to the article that got me thinking.

It’s from Canada, it’s a long +20 minute read and it refers to the main character as ‘the love scammer Shaun Rothberg’ which of course is not his real name.

His real name is Shaun Rootenberg.

Unfortunately, that’s the only funny part to his story.

The Secret Broker can be found on Twitter here @SecretBrokerAU or on email at [email protected].

Feel free to contact him with your best stock tips and ideas.